Reconciling the self and morality: an empirical model of moral centrality development.Dev Psychol. 2009 Nov; 45(6):1669-81.DP
Self-interest and moral sensibilities generally compete with one another, but for moral exemplars, this tension appears to not be in play. This study advances the reconciliation model, which explains this anomaly within a developmental framework by positing that the relationship between the self's interests and moral concerns ideally transforms from one of mutual competition to one of synergy. The degree to which morality is central to an individual's identity-or moral centrality-was operationalized in terms of values advanced implicitly in self-understanding narratives; a measure was developed and then validated. Participants were 97 university students who responded to a self-understanding interview and to several measures of morally relevant behaviors. Results indicated that communal values (centered on concerns for others) positively predicted and agentic (self-interested) values negatively predicted moral behavior. At the same time, the tendency to coordinate both agentic and communal values within narrative thought segments positively predicted moral behavior, indicating that the 2 motives can be adaptively reconciled. Moral centrality holds considerable promise in explaining moral motivation and its development.