Toward a Model of Morally Motivated Behavior: Investigating Mediators of the Moral Conviction-Action Link
Morgan, Gregory S.
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The goal of the current research was to investigate the psychological factors that underlie the moral conviction-action link—that is, people’s greater tendency to take action in the name of their moral mandates (i.e., attitudes that reflect their sense of fundamental right and wrong) than their strong but non-moral attitudes. The current research investigated whether moral mandates motivate action because people (a) feel they are obligated to act, (b) believe their actions are likely to make a difference, (c) seek to advance group interests, (d) anticipate feeling regret if they do not take action, or (e) anticipate feeling pride if they do take action. In particular, three studies tested the associations among variables in the context of a potential graduate assistant strike, a university faculty unionization movement, and undergraduates’ reactions to comprehensive testing as a mandatory graduation requirement. Across all studies, a consistent pattern of results emerged. The degree to which participants vested their position with moral conviction was positively associated with their willingness to take action. Moreover, obligation (in all three studies) and anticipated pride (in Study 2) mediated the moral conviction-action link even when controlling for other potential mediators. The strength of people’s moral conviction about the issue-at hand predicted the degree to which they felt obligated to take action and the degree they anticipated feeling pride after taking action. In turn, the stronger people’s sense of obligation and (less consistently)