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Moral Self-Esteem Enhancement: The Double-edge Sword in Social Judgments


In the current dissertation research, we resolved the different predictions and explored how moral self-esteem enhancement influences an individual's social judgments. By testing the effect of moral self-esteem enhancement in the current dissertation study, we first demonstrated that moral self-esteem was a dynamic, proactive motivational factor that could be changed by situational factors, such as by recalling people's previous moral actions (Study 1). Then we reconciled the different predictions about whether situational factors will make individuals render harsher moral judgments by linking the influence between the change of moral self-concept and affective reactions. When the nature of the social situation was clear, individuals tended to change their affective reaction to respond to the social situation in their judgments. In general, individuals with enhanced moral self-esteem intensified their affective reactions in their social judgments (Study 2). Finally, we emphasized the importance of the interaction between moral self-esteem enhancement and the nature of the social events. When the nature of the social events was ambiguous, individuals would rely on their self-concepts to make motivational attributions. In general, participants with moral self-esteem enhancement would seek for consistency between their self-concepts and their cognitive intention inference (Study 3 and Study 4). In the end, the theoretical contributions and the future research directions were discussed.

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