Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 205–213 | Cite as

Identity, Reasoning, and Emotion: An Empirical Comparison of Three Sources of Moral Motivation

  • Sam A. HardyEmail author
Original Paper


Prior research on moral motivation has primarily emphasized moral reasoning and moral emotion; however, identity may also play an important role. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to examine the relative importance of prosocial identity, prosocial moral reasoning, and empathy in predicting prosocial behavior. The sample included 91 university students, ages 19–35 years (M=21.89; SD=3.01; 80% European American; 65% female). Prosocial identity and empathy, but not prosocial moral reasoning, were positively associated with overall prosocial behavior. Exploratory analyses examined how these three sources of prosocial motivation differentially related to six forms of prosocial behavior. Results suggest the importance of considering the roles of all three sources of moral motivation.


Moral motivation Prosocial motivation Moral identity Moral self Prosocial behavior 



This research was funded by a Gift-of-Time Dissertation Grant awarded by the Association for Moral Education to Sam Hardy and by an institutional training grant (T32 AG20500-01) awarded to John R. Nesselroade by the National Institute on Aging. The author would like to thank Gustavo Carlo, Carolyn Pope Edwards, Richard Dienstbier, David Moshman, and Ross Thompson for their guidance throughout the project and their comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. The author also greatly appreciates Augusto Blasi for insight provided during the planning and data collection phases of the project, John Nesselroade and the Center for Developmental and Health Research Methodology for statistical consultation, and Lois Jean Hardy for her continued support. Lastly, the author is grateful to the following undergraduate students for their assistance on the project: Veronica Barra, Gina Lintel, Laura Peterson, and Mark Schroeder.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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