How Can a Deontological Decision Lead to Moral Behavior? The Moderating Role of Moral Identity

Zhi Xing Xu*, Hing Keung MA

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Deontology and utilitarianism are two competing principles that guide our moral judgment. Recently, deontology is thought to be intuitive and is based on an error-prone and biased approach, whereas utilitarianism is relatively reflective and a suitable framework for making decision. In this research, the authors explored the relationship among moral identity, moral decision, and moral behavior to see how a preference for the deontological solution can lead to moral behavior. In study 1, a Web-based survey demonstrated that when making decisions, individuals who viewed themselves as moral people preferred deontological ideals to the utilitarian framework. In study 2, the authors investigated the effect of moral identity and moral decision on moral behavior in an experimental study. The results showed that when deontology was coupled with the motivational power of moral identity, individuals were most likely to behave morally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-549
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Deontology
  • Ethical predispositions
  • Moral behavior
  • Moral decision
  • Moral identity
  • Utilitarianism


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