Recurring business and political scandals in modern capitalist societies stress urgent need to understand why people exhibit (im)moral behaviors. Moral cleansing research showed that, when individuals’ self-worth as moral people is threatened, they exhibit more moral behaviors presumably to restore and maintain the moral self-worth. This paper further develops this research by testing whether moral cleansing serves a higher goal of maintain global self-worth, which encompasses self- worth in multiple areas including morality and non-moral areas (e.g., intelligence, athletics, physical appearance, etc.). Three experiments consistently showed that a self-worth threat (vs. control) in an area unrelated to morality led individuals who value morality to volunteer more for a research study, donate more to a local charity, and exhibit less deceptive behavior. These results suggest that moral cleansing is a mechanism through which individuals maintain their global self-worth and have implications for better understanding why people choose the moral route in moral dilemmas.
|Title of host publication||Academy of Management Proceedings|
|Place of Publication||Briarcliff Manor, NY|
|Publisher||Academy of Management|
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|