Theory of Morality proposed

Why do some people behave morally while others do not?  For decades, sociologists have posited that individual behavior results from cultural expectations about how to act in specific situations. In a study, "A Theory of the Self for the Sociology of Morality," published in the February issue of the American Sociological Review, Jan E. Stets of UC Riverside and Michael J. Carter of CSU Northridge found that how individuals see themselves in moral terms is also an important motivator of behavior.

Subjects self-assessed themselves in characteristics including:

honest/dishonest, caring/uncaring, unkind/kind, unfair/fair, helpful/not helpful, stingy/generous, compassionate/hardhearted, untruthful/truthful, not hardworking/hardworking, friendly/unfriendly, selfish/selfless, and principled/unprincipled

The more that individuals endorsed themselves as honest, caring, kind, fair, helpful, generous, compassionate, truthful, hardworking, friendly, selfless, and principled, the higher their moral identity.

"We found that individuals with a high moral identity score were more likely to behave morally, while those with a low moral identity score were less likely to behave morally. Respondents who received feedback from others that did not verify their moral identity standard were more likely to report guilt and shame than those whose identities were verified

In an urban setting it is obviously important that individuals behave morally.  To do otherwise imposes substantial costs on society as a whole.