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The Social Psychology of the Moral Identity

  • Jan E. Stets
Chapter
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)

Abstract

For some time, psychologists have been studying the relationship between moral reasoning and moral behavior. A growing body of research insists that a moral identity rather than moral reasoning is crucial to understanding moral functioning. However, despite the interest in moral identity, there is no general theory that helps us understand this identity, or more generally, the moral self. In this chapter, I discuss the well-established control systems approach of identity theory to show how different aspects of the moral self: one’s moral identity, moral behavior, and moral emotions are linked in a logical and coherent way. I conceptualize social actors as self-regulating moral entities whose goal is to verify their moral identities. When moral identity verification does not ensue, moral emotions arise and motivate individuals to behave differently in order to produce outcomes that will better accomplish moral identity verification. I also discuss how we can theoretically understand the moral identity given the various other identities individuals claim.

Keywords

Person Identity Identity Theory Moral Identity Moral Behavior Moral Action 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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