The effect of positive reciprocity in the relationship between college students’ moral identity and moral behavior

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Zhiyong Li
Yonghai Zhu
Li Zhang
Junhe Liao
Yuqiu Gong
Qi Zhang
Yingying Xu
Zhixin Zhang
Cite this article:  Li, Z., Zhu, Y., Zhang, L., Liao, J., Gong, Y., Zhang, Q., Xu, Y., & Zhang, Z. (2021). The effect of positive reciprocity in the relationship between college students’ moral identity and moral behavior. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 49(6), e9865.


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We explored the mediating mechanism of positive reciprocity in the relationship between moral identity and moral behavior, using data obtained from a survey of 567 college students. The results indicate that moral identity internalization, moral identity symbolization, and overall moral identity were positively correlated with positive reciprocity and moral behavior. In addition, positive reciprocity was positively correlated with moral behavior. Further, moral identity internalization moderated the influence of moral identity symbolization on moral behavior, and this moderating effect was partially mediated by positive reciprocity. Specifically, the effect of moral identity symbolization on moral behavior through positive reciprocity was strong among individuals with higher moral identity internalization, but weak among individuals with lower moral identity internalization. Overall, the study findings reveal how moral identity affects moral behavior, which has implications for improving the structure of ideological and moral education in colleges and universities.

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