Main Article Content
We constructed a moderated mediation model to examine the mediating effect of social identification between the psychological distance of the role model and students’ sense of purpose and the moderating effect of students’ social comparison orientation on the relationship between psychological distance of the role model and students’ social identification, which subsequently affects their sense of purpose. Participants were 518 Chinese undergraduates who completed experiments in two studies, and a survey in a third study. Results showed that (a) after excluding the influences of gender and major, psychological distance from their role models negatively predicted participants’ sense of purpose; (b) social identification partially mediated the relationship between psychological distance and sense of purpose; and (c) social comparison orientation moderated the negative effects of psychological distance on social identification. Our results show that for the practice of education by example, students should be guided to choose proximal role models as references to enhance their sense of purpose, and thereby reduce the hollow heart phenomenon.