Featured Topic: Morality

The start of a new year is, for many, a time to review the highs and lows of the previous year, take a break from work and relax with family and friends, and enjoy some treats in the form of food or drink, work parties, gifts, vacations, or other special activities. In some countries and cultures, setting goals is a common practice associated with the new year. These goals can be informed and influenced by many factors, one of which is reflecting on one’s moral imperatives, such as acting altruistically, being empathetic, and keeping commitments. 

Morality has captured the interest of SBP authors since the publication of our very first issue (Butter & Sidenberg, 1973), and more recently we’ve published papers in which moral behavior has been found to be positively connected with wisdom (Li & Wang, 2017) and intentionality (Bian, Wang, & Zhong, 2017) and negatively connected with the dehumanization of asylum seekers (Trounson, Critchley, & Pfeifer, 2015).

Zhang, Liao, and Yuan (2016) stated that morality is an essential component of ethical behavior that comprises three dimensions: moral ownership (i.e., assuming responsibility for one’s own actions), moral efficacy (i.e., believing one has the ability to perform ethical tasks), and moral courage (i.e., having the fortitude to face risks and overcome fears). They asserted that the collective presence of these dimensions provides employees with sufficient psychological resources to act morally at work. Also in a workplace context, Zhao, Chen, and Lee (2017)  reported that knowledge sharing contributes to others’ perception of one’s morality because it helps employees “to establish a friendly and selfless personal image” (p. 1694). 

From a developmental perspective, Butter and Sidenberg (1973) examined if the same level of moral development is exhibited in different moral conflict situations, and reported that college students resolved political and ideological conflicts at a more mature moral stage of development than they did honesty or social conflicts. These results led them to form the conclusion that “An individual could know the mature response to make in a situation that is abstract and presents no consequences to himself, yet not make that same response when he is personally experiencing the conflict” (p. 69). This particular human tendency appears to have persisted in the decades since Butter and Sidenberg’s study was published, indicating that morality remains a rich area for further exploration!

Delve into our archive of research with a personal subscription! This gives you access to over 6,000 high-quality papers on a wide variety of topics, including more than 100 papers related to morality and moral behavior. 

Manifestations of moral development in concrete situations – Eliot J. Butter and Bernard Sidenberg, 1973, 1(1), 64–70.

A three-dimensional model of the wise personality: A free classification approach – Haiqing Li and Fengyan Wang, 2017, 45(11), 1879–1888. 

Development of understanding of intentionality and moral judgments in preschoolers – Xiaoying Bian, Yifang Wang, and Xiaolu Zhong, 2017, 45(5), 859–872.

Australian attitudes toward asylum seekers: Roles of dehumanization and social dominance theory – Justin S. Trounson, Christine Critchley, and Jeffrey E. Pfeifer, 2015, 43(10), 1641–1656.

Ethical leadership and whistleblowing: Collective moral potency and personal identification as mediators – Fa-wang Zhang, Jian-qiao Liao, and Jin-ming Yuan, 2016, 44(7), 1223–1232.