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The nature of the association between moral neutralization and aggression: A systematic test of causality in early adolescence


Ribeaud, D; Eisner, M (2015). The nature of the association between moral neutralization and aggression: A systematic test of causality in early adolescence. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 61(1):68-84.

Abstract

This article examines possible causal linkages between moral neutralization–a generic term for the related concepts of neutralization techniques, moral disengagement, and self-serving cognitive distortions–and aggressive behavior by using a set of repeated measures in a culturally diverse urban sample at ages 11.4 and 13.7 (N = 1,032). First, correlational analyses show a strong cross-sectional association between moral neutralization and aggression. Second, fixed-effects regressions indicate substantial within-individual association implying that the cross-sectional association cannot be explained away by population heterogeneity. The within-individual association also remains stable when controlling for a number of potential confounds, which supports the notion of a direct causal relationship. Third, results of path analyses revealed near-zero lagged effects of moral neutralization on aggression when controlling for antecedent aggression and vice versa, thus suggesting no longer-term independent causal effects in either direction. Moreover, synchronous effects of moral neutralization on aggression when controlling for antecedent aggression and vice versa are same-sized and significant. Overall, results suggest a close short-term interdependence of both constructs.

Abstract

This article examines possible causal linkages between moral neutralization–a generic term for the related concepts of neutralization techniques, moral disengagement, and self-serving cognitive distortions–and aggressive behavior by using a set of repeated measures in a culturally diverse urban sample at ages 11.4 and 13.7 (N = 1,032). First, correlational analyses show a strong cross-sectional association between moral neutralization and aggression. Second, fixed-effects regressions indicate substantial within-individual association implying that the cross-sectional association cannot be explained away by population heterogeneity. The within-individual association also remains stable when controlling for a number of potential confounds, which supports the notion of a direct causal relationship. Third, results of path analyses revealed near-zero lagged effects of moral neutralization on aggression when controlling for antecedent aggression and vice versa, thus suggesting no longer-term independent causal effects in either direction. Moreover, synchronous effects of moral neutralization on aggression when controlling for antecedent aggression and vice versa are same-sized and significant. Overall, results suggest a close short-term interdependence of both constructs.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Education
Social Sciences & Humanities > Developmental and Educational Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
Uncontrolled Keywords:zproso
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:15 Mar 2019 08:59
Last Modified:15 Apr 2020 23:12
Publisher:Wayne State University Press
ISSN:0272-930X
Additional Information:113 Notes: FinRepPhase3
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.13110/merrpalmquar1982.61.1.0068
Related URLs:http://muse.jhu.edu/article/577568
https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/ (Publisher)

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