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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00814

How Can Prosocial Behavior Be Motivated? The Different Roles of Moral Judgment, Moral Elevation, and Moral Identity among the Young Chinese

 Wan Ding1, Yanhong Shao1*,  Binghai Sun1*, Ruibo Xie2, Weijian Li1 and Xiaozhen Wang1
  • 1College of Teacher Education, Zhejiang Normal University, China
  • 2School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, China

Prior research has shown that moral judgment, moral elevation, and moral identity contribute to prosocial behavior. However, how the three motivating factors interact in predicting prosocial behaviors is not yet clear. The current study proposed and examined a moderated mediation model to illustrate the specific process how prosocial behavior is motivated by these factors. A total of 264 Chinese undergraduate and graduate students participated in the present study (140 females; 17–26 years, M = 20.25, SD = 1.57). Moral judgment competence, intensity of moral elevation, and moral identity of participants were measured by self-reported scales, and the tendency to engage in prosocial behavior were assessed in the simulated “Ask for help” situation. The results showed that moral elevation mediated the effect of moral judgment on prosocial behavior, and moral identity moderated this mediation through interacting with moral elevation. Results supported the assumptive model and provided a comprehensive framework to explain prosocial behavior. However, within the proposed model, the mediating effect of moral elevation in women was stronger than in men, and the moderating role of moral identity appear in women, but not in men. These findings imply different methods for men and women to enhance their prosocial behaviors, including that more attention to developing moral reasoning should be paid in men, while more emphasis on evoking moral emotion and moral traits should be put in women.

Keywords: Prosocial Behavior, moral judgment, Moral elevation, Moral identity, Moral conduct

Received: 18 Oct 2016; Accepted: 07 May 2018.

Edited by:

Sumitava Mukherjee, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, India

Reviewed by:

Nathaniel J. Ashby, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
Wenhai Zhang, Yancheng Institute of Technology, China
Mirjana Djordjevic, University of Belgrade, Serbia  

Copyright: © 2018 Ding, Shao, Sun, Xie, Li and Wang. 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) and the copyright owner 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.

* Correspondence:
Dr. Yanhong Shao, College of Teacher Education, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, China, yh@sizu.edu.cn
Dr. Binghai Sun, College of Teacher Education, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, China, jky18@zjnu.cn