Morality and the Regulation of Social Behavior: Groups as Moral Anchors, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Morality and the Regulation of Social Behavior

Groups as Moral Anchors, 1st Edition

By Naomi Ellemers


292 pages | 73 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138958180
pub: 2017-06-19
Hardback: 9781138958166
pub: 2017-06-13
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pub: 2017-07-14
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Morality indicates what is the ‘right’ and what is the ‘wrong’ way to behave. It is one of the most popular areas of research in contemporary social psychology, driven in part by recent political-economic crises and the behavioral patterns they exposed. In the past, work on morality tended to highlight individual concerns and moral principles, but more recently researchers have started to address the group context of moral behavior. In Morality and the Regulation of Social Behavior: Groups as Moral Anchors, Naomi Ellemersbuilds on her extensive research experience to draw together a wide range of insights and findings on morality. She offers an essential integrative summary of the social functions of moral phenomena, examines how social groups contribute to moral values, and explains how groups act as ‘moral anchors’.

Her analysis suggests that intragroup dynamics and the desire to establish a distinct group identity are highly relevant to understanding the implications of morality for the regulation of individual behavior. Yet, this group-level context has not been systematically taken into account in research on morality, nor is it used as a matter of course to inform attempts to influence moral behavior. Building on social identity and self-categorization principles, this unique book explicitly considers social groups as an important source of moral values, and examines how this impacts on individual decision making as well as collective behaviors and relations between groups in society. Throughout the book, Ellemers presents results from her own research to elucidate how social behavior is affected by moral concerns. In doing this, she highlights how such insights advance our understanding of moral behavior and moral judgments for of people who live together in communities and work together in organizations.

Morality and the Regulation of Social Behavior is essential reading for academics and students in social psychology and related disciplines, and is an invaluable resource for practitioners interested in understanding moral behavior.


'In Morality and the Regulation of Social Behaviour, Naomi Ellemers argues that morality cannot be understood except as a group phenomenon. Using vivid real-world examples backed up by the latest psychological research, Ellemers shows the paramount importance of morality as people govern their own behaviour, look for norms, and seek to fit in. Unlike most research in moral psychology, which has emphasized the contents of moral rules, here we see how group concerns transform vague rules into concrete actions, and motivate us to look for signs of good character and ethical climate. This book provides a vital psychological perspective on morality, groups, and organizational ethics.' - Professor Roger Giner-Sorolla, School of Psychology, University of Kent, UK

Table of Contents

Part One: Introduction

Chapter 1: Why study morality?

Chapter 2: Groups as moral anchors

Part Two: Intrapersonal level

Chapter 3: We all want to be moral

Chapter 4: Moral lapses and moral self-views

Part Three: Interpersonal level

Chapter 5: Whom do we trust?

Chapter 6: Seeking moral guidance

Part Four: Intragroup level

Chapter 7: What we stand for

Chapter 8: Moral atmospheres

Part Five: Intergroup level

Chapter 9: Achieving moral distinction

Chapter 10: Who is worthy of moral treatment?

Part Six: Conclusion

Chapter 11: How will this help us?

Chapter 12: Making a difference


About the Author

Naomi Ellemers is Distinguished University Professor at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, and Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy for the humanities and social sciences. She is a leading international scholar in the field of Social Psychology, who has received numerous awards and distinctions for her work. She is well known for her research on group processes and intergroup relations, and for the way she combines laboratory research with applied work in organizations. She is involved in several initiatives that help practitioners and policymakers benefit from scientific insights to build evidence-based interventions.

About the Series

European Monographs in Social Psychology

The European Monographs in Social Psychology series is published in conjunction with the European Association of Social Psychology, to support authored books for advanced students covering social topics that promote a European intellectual perspective to the rest of the world.

The aim of this series is to publish and promote the highest quality of writing in European social psychology, and provide an outlet for new research in the field. At a time when cultural and political frontiers in Europe are being redrawn, there could hardly be a more appropriate time to promote a distinctively European intellectual perspective to the rest of the world. The editor and the editorial board encourage publications which approach social psychology from a wide range of theoretical perspectives and whose content may be applied, theoretical or empirical.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / General