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

Morality and the Regulation of Social Behavior
Groups as Moral Anchors

ISBN 9781138958180
Published June 15, 2017 by Routledge
302 Pages 73 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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 Ellemers builds 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.

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


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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.


'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