You are here: Home / News Release Archives / 2013 / October / Does the Promise of Recognition Really Prompt Good Deeds?

Does the Promise of Recognition Really Prompt Good Deeds?

Recognition might not be as important as previously thought in motivating people to perform good deeds, such as donating money or volunteering time to a philanthropic cause, shows recent research from authors at the Penn State Smeal College of Business.
October 25, 2013

Recognition might not be as important as previously thought in motivating people to perform good deeds, such as donating money or volunteering time to a philanthropic cause, shows recent research from authors at the Penn State Smeal College of Business.

A study conducted by Assistant Professor of Marketing Karen Winterich examined how the promise of recognition interacts with one’s moral identity to predict philanthropic behavior. Results showed that recognition is only necessary as a motivational tool in a certain subset of people.

Moral identity is defined as “the mental representation of one’s moral character,” according to the authors, and it has two dimensions: the private and the public. The private dimension of moral identity is made up of personal ideals and beliefs and is considered high in people for whom morality is of central importance to the self. The public dimension is expressed to others through action, and is considered high in those for whom it is important to project morality to others.

Results showed that recognition is only necessary as a motivational tool in a certain subset of people.

Recognition, the researchers found, is a great motivator for people who are high in their public dimension of moral identity but lower in the private dimension. For these people, recognition provides the ability to publically portray moral aspects of themselves. Recognition can also result in other positive outcomes for the recognized, like status elevation, increased social influence, or material reward.

On the other hand, those with a high sense of private moral identity are likely to do good deeds simply because “doing so is consistent with their understanding of what it means to be a moral person.” People high in private moral identity—whether high or low in the public—don’t find the recognition necessary as a motivator, and people low in both dimensions will be unlikely to act philanthropically even with the promise of recognition.

So, for organizations spending a great deal of money on recognition of its philanthropic contributors, much of that money may be wasted. The researchers suggest offering the option to decline recognition, particularly when recognition is costly to the organization.

So, for organizations spending a great deal of money on recognition of its philanthropic contributors, much of that money may be wasted.

“When Moral Identity Symbolization Motivates Prosocial Behavior: The Role of Recognition and Moral Identity Internalization” appeared in the September issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology and is authored by Winterich, Karl Aquino of the University of British Columbia, and Vikas Mittal and Richard Swartz of Rice University.

Filed under: , ,
Recent News
Company Looks to Penn State Smeal for Next Generation Supply Chain Talent 23 Jul

The Penn State Smeal College of Business is one of only two schools from which Burlington Stores, a national off-price retailer headquartered in New Jersey, actively recruits for its Supply Chain Leader Development Program. This leadership program for supply chain graduates is an 18-month program that introduces new graduates to the various roles and responsibilities of leadership at the company.

Management and Organization's Gioia Reflects on GM Crisis 11 Jul

When GM began recalling vehicles in February because of an ignition-switch problem, the situation brought back early career memories for Denny Gioia. Currently, the Robert and Judith Klein Professor of Management and chair of the Department of Management and Organization at the Penn State Smeal College of Business, Gioia once worked as recall coordinator for Ford Motor Company.

Inaugural Executive MBA Leadership Forum Addresses Issues in Health Care 09 Jul

Early last month, the Penn State Smeal Executive MBA Program hosted its inaugural Senior Leadership Forum, an opportunity for current and prospective students as well as program alumni to come together to discuss business and leadership.

Ghadar's Recent Book on Immigration's Benefits Garners Media Attention 08 Jul

Becoming American: Why Immigration is Good for Our Nation’s Future, authored by Penn State Smeal College of Business’ William A. Schreyer Professor of Global Management, Policies, and Planning Fariborz Ghadar, has garnered much media attention since its release in March of this year.

Smeal's Lilien, ISBM Cofounder, Earns Lifetime Achievement Award from AMA 03 Jul

Gary L. Lilien, distinguished research professor of management science at the Penn State Smeal College of Business, has earned the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Marketing Association (AMA) Interorganizational Special Interest Group (IOSIG) for his more than 40 years of high-level scholarship in business-to-business marketing.

More Recent News... More Recent News...