Examining Moral Identity from Multiple Perspectives in Order to Promote its Development

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University of Alabama Libraries

Moral identity is generally defined as considering moral values important to an individual’s overall sense of self. It has received much attention in the field for being significant for helping to promote moral behavior. Because of this, the current dissertation conducted three studies to explore different aspects related to moral identity. Study 1 applied Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model to longitudinal data from the Civic Purpose Project in order to investigate the best predictors for moral identity two years after Time 1. Results showed that ethnic identity was the most significant predictor, along with school climate and school and neighborhood support. Study 2 investigated the best model for predicting beyond-the-self (BTS) motivation using moral identity and empathic traits. Results showed moral identity symbolization and perspective taking were the most significant predictors, along with moral identity internalization and empathic concern. Finally, Study 3 conducted a reanalysis of fMRI data in order to investigate the neural correlates of selfhood when responding to various moral violations. Results showed that the medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex differently interacted with brain areas such as supplementary motor area, hippocampus, and fusiform gyrus depending on intentionality and type of violation. Implications for promoting development of moral identity and moral behavior are discussed.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Empathy, Moral identity, Morality, Purpose