Regulating (im)moral behavior – the role of moral identity

Laetitia Mulder, University of Groningen

From large scale ethical scandals to all kind of atrocities committed by human beings, one may conclude that people gradually have gotten more and more involved in unethical acts. Minor unethical acts seem to have escalated in multiple and perhaps more serious misdeeds. At the same time, we all behave unethical once in a while without necessarily letting it escalate into clearly unacceptable levels. How do some people let their own unethical acts to get out of hand, while others succeed in keeping an equilibrium of ethical behavior? I will discuss the role of moral identity in this. Research has shown that people for who “being moral” is an important part of their identity deal with this differently than people for who this is less important. I will discuss organizational and societal implications.


About Laetitia Mulder

Laetitia Mulder got her PhD in 2005 in social psychology from Leiden University. She is now Associate Professor at the department of HRM & OB at the University of Groningen, faculty of Economics and Business. Her research focuses on how people regulate their own (im)moral behavior and on how authorities can regulate the (im)moral behavior of subordinates (citizens, employees, etc). Another direction of het research is moralization of health-related topics (such as obesity).