What Is Moral About Moral Emotions? Guilt Elicits Prosocial Behavior As Well As Antisocial Behavior

Ilona De Hooge, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Rob Nelissen, Tilburg University, the Netherlands
Seger Breugelmans, Tilburg University, the Netherlands
Marcel Zeelenberg, Tilburg University, the Netherlands
The morality of moral emotions lies in the fact that they stimulate prosocial behavior such as donations and benefit others in our social environment. However, when multiple persons are involved the moral nature of these emotions can be questioned. We show how guilt, the most exemplary moral emotion, can benefit the victim of one’s actions but also damage others. Three studies confirm that guilt motivates prosocial behavior towards the victim at the expense of third parties, not at the expense of oneself. This indicates that a thorough understanding of functioning of moral emotions is necessary to fully understand their influence on consumer behavior.
[ to cite ]:
Ilona De Hooge, Rob Nelissen, Seger Breugelmans, and Marcel Zeelenberg (2010) ,"What Is Moral About Moral Emotions? Guilt Elicits Prosocial Behavior As Well As Antisocial Behavior", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 715-715 .