A significant amount of research shows that adolescents who obfuscate their personal responsibility for aggressive behavior by employing justificatory strategies in the form of moral disengagement processes engage in more aggression. This questionnaire-based study examined the moderating roles of empathic concern and perspective taking in attenuating the association between moral disengagement practices and overt aggression. Participants were 1,152 mainly white Australian adolescents (723 boys) in Grades 7–11 (12.49–16.40 years of age). Consistent with previous research, the findings from this study revealed that moral disengagement proneness was associated with higher levels of self-reported overt aggression. Further, the empathy-related variables of empathic concern and perspective taking each moderated the link between moral disengagement proneness and aggression. At higher levels of empathic concern and perspective taking, the association between moral disengagement proneness and aggression was weaker than at lower levels of each of the empathy-related variables. These results have implications for intervention programs to reduce peer aggression in schools.
Bussey, Kay; Quinn, Catherine; and Dobson, Jane
"The Moderating Role of Empathic Concern and Perspective Taking on the Relationship Between Moral Disengagement and Aggression,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 61
, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol61/iss1/2