To Avenge or Not to Avenge? Exploring the Interactive Effects of Moral Identity and the Negative Reciprocity Norm

Journal of Business Ethics 121 (1):15-28 (2014)
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Abstract

Across three studies, the authors examine the interactive effects of moral identity and the negative reciprocity norm in predicting revenge. The general argument is that moral identity provides the motivational impetus for individuals’ responses, whereas the normative framework that people adopt as a basis for guiding moral action influences the direction of the response. Results indicated that moral identity and the negative reciprocity norm significantly interacted to predict revenge. More specifically, the symbolization dimension of moral identity interacted with the negative reciprocity norm to predict revenge when individuals were the targets of mistreatment, whereas the internalization dimension of moral identity interacted with the negative reciprocity norm to predict revenge when individuals were the observers of mistreatment. Theoretical implications related to the differences between the symbolization and internalization dimensions of moral identity, the importance of examining normative frameworks, and the functionality of revenge are discussed.

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