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25-08-2020 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 11/2020 Open Access

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 11/2020

Effortful Control and Community Violence Exposure as Predictors of Developmental Trajectories of Self-serving Cognitive Distortions in Adolescence: A Growth Mixture Modeling Approach

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 11/2020
Concetta Esposito, Gaetana Affuso, Mirella Dragone, Dario Bacchini
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Self-serving cognitive distortions are biased or rationalizing beliefs and thoughts that originate from the individual persistence into immature moral judgment stages during adolescence and adulthood, increasing the individual’s engagement in antisocial or immoral conducts. To date, the literature examining trajectories of cognitive distortions over time and their precursors is limited. This study sought to fill this gap, by examining effortful control and community violence exposure as individual and environmental precursors to developmental trajectories of cognitive distortions in adolescence. The sample consisted of 803 Italian high school students (349 males; Mage = 14.19, SD = 0.57). Three trajectories of cognitive distortions were identified: (1) moderately high and stable cognitive distortions (N = 311), (2) moderate and decreasing cognitive distortions (N = 363), and (3) low and decreasing cognitive distortions (N = 129). Both low effortful control and high exposure to community violence were significant predictors for moderately high and stable trajectory of cognitive distortions. These results point to the importance of considering moral development as a process involving multiple levels of individual ecology, highlighting the need to further explore how dispositional and environmental factors might undermine developmental processes of morality.

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