Moral or immoral behavior has no effect on personality until the person is intellectually mature enough to understand the attitude of the social group toward his behavior. A baby doesn’t realize that an act is wrong unless he is punished for it. Even then, he may fail to understand why he was punished. Furthermore, he has no feeling of guilt from wrong doing because he has not yet learned a moral code by which to judge his behavior.
As time passes, the person gradually learns what society expects and how it judges him when his behavior falls short of expectations, AT the same time, he is learning to judge his own behavior in terms of a moral code he has developed through experience and moral teaching. If he feels that his behavior falls short of this code, he will have feelings of guilt. If his behavior comes up to expectations, both his own and the group’s he will be satisfied with himself.
The influence of moral expectations on the self-concept will depend on a number of conditions: whether the person is forced, by fear of punishment, to conform or whether he wants to conform because of the personal benefit he will derive from doing so; the attitude of the person who requires him to conform and the method used to enforce conformity; and whether he feels secure in his moral beliefs and in his ability to translate these beliefs into actions,.
If a person feels unsure of his ability to make moral judgments that will win group approval or if he is uncertain of his ability to carry out decisions in ways that will be approved by a group, he will bolster himself up by rigid and authoritarian moral standards or he will learn on external standard of right and wrong rather than his own convictions. In any situation in which moral decision is made, such a person is likely to be plagued by uncertainty and doubt. By contrast, the person who learns a socially acceptable code of moral values and accepts this code as a guide to his behavior is more secure, more confident of his ability to live up to the code, and more likely to be a “ comfortable” and well-adjusted person.