Out of control!? How loss of self-control influences prosocial behavior: the role of power and moral values.
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AbstractLack of self-control has been suggested to facilitate norm-transgressing behaviors because of the operation of automatic selfish impulses. Previous research, however, has shown that people having a high moral identity may not show such selfish impulses when their self-control resources are depleted. In the present research, we extended this effect to prosocial behavior. Moreover, we investigated the role of power in the interaction between moral identity and self-control depletion. More specifically, we expected that power facilitates the externalization of internal states, which implies that for people who feel powerful, rather than powerless, depletion decreases prosocial behavior especially for those low in moral identity. A laboratory experiment and a multisource field study supported our predictions. The present finding that the interaction between self-control depletion and moral identity is contingent upon people's level of power suggests that power may enable people to refrain from helping behavior. Moreover, the findings suggest that if organizations want to improve prosocial behaviors, it may be effective to situationally induce moral values in their employees.