How prosocial actors use power hierarchies to build moral reputation

Inesi, M E and Rios, K (2023) How prosocial actors use power hierarchies to build moral reputation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 106. ISSN 0022-1031 (In Press) OPEN ACCESS

Abstract

Power hierarchies are ubiquitous, emerging formally and informally, in both personal and professional contexts. When prosocial acts are offered within power hierarchies, there is a widespread belief that people who choose lower-power beneficiaries are altruistically motivated, and that those who choose higher-power beneficiaries hold a self-interested motive to ingratiate. In contrast, the current research empirically demonstrates that people can also choose lower-power beneficiaries for self-interested reasons – namely, to bolster their own moral reputation in the group. Across three pre-registered studies, involving different contexts and types of prosocial behavior, and including real financial incentives, we demonstrate that people are more likely to choose lower-power beneficiaries when reputation concerns are more salient. We also provide evidence of the mechanism underlying this pattern: people believe that choosing a lower-power beneficiary more effectively signals their own moral character.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2023 12:20
Date of first compliant deposit: 23 Jan 2023
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2024 01:51
URI: https://lbsresearch.london.edu/id/eprint/2771
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