Once dishonest, always dishonest? The impact of perceived pervasiveness of moral evaluations of the self on motivation to restore a moral reputation
Di Cesare, C
Frontiers in Psychology
Copyright © 2016 Pagliaro, Ellemers, Barreto and Di Cesare. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Four studies specify how moral evaluations of the self regulate behavior aimed at restoring a moral reputation. We propose that people care about evaluations of themselves as moral or immoral because these are perceived as more consequential than other types of information. Therefore people are more inclined to restore their image after being negatively evaluated in terms of morality rather than competence. Studies 1 and 2 revealed that moral information was perceived as having a more enduring impact on one’s reputation, and was more strongly related to anticipate intra-group respect and self-views, than competence and sociability information. This perceived pervasiveness of moral (vs. competence) evaluations mediated intentions to justify and explain one’s behavior (Study 3). Study 4 finally showed that being seen as lacking in morality elicited threat and coping responses, which induced subsequent tendencies to repair one’s moral reputation.
This work was made possible due to a FIRB 2012 grant from the Italian Ministry of Education and Research (number RBFR128CR6) awarded to SP and a Spinoza award from the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO) to NE.