Send to

Choose Destination
J Appl Psychol. 2019 Feb 4. doi: 10.1037/apl0000388. [Epub ahead of print]

The money or the morals? When moral language is more effective for selling social issues.

Author information

Management and Organizations Area, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.
Department of Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University.


We examine the effectiveness of economic and moral language used by employees when selling social issues to management. In contrast to prior work finding that employees believe it is best to use economic language to influence management to address social issues, we draw on the issue selling, persuasion, and behavioral ethics literatures to demonstrate that moral language is actually most influential-especially when the language is framed to align with the organization's values and/or mission. The results from a combination of 3 field survey studies and 1 experimental vignette study provide support for this hypothesis. In addition, we find support for obligation (i.e., manager's anticipated guilt), rather than inspiration (i.e., manager's prosocial motivation), as a mediator of this interactive effect. We discuss implications for literatures on issue selling, persuasion, and behavioral ethics. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).


Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center