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Moral identity has been positively linked to prosocial behaviors and negatively linked to antisocial behaviors; but, the processes by which it is linked to such outcomes are unclear. The purpose of the present study was to examine moral identity not only as a predictor, but also as a moderator of relationships between other predictors (moral disengagement and self-regulation) and youth outcomes (prosocial and antisocial behaviors). The sample consisted of 384 adolescents (42 % female), ages 15–18 recruited from across the US using an online survey panel. Latent variables were created for moral identity, moral disengagement, and self-regulation. Structural equation models assessed these latent variables, and interactions of moral identity with moral disengagement and self-regulation, as predictors of prosocial (charity and civic engagement) and antisocial (aggression and rule breaking) behaviors. None of the interactions were significant predicting prosocial behaviors. For antisocial behaviors, the interaction between moral identity and moral disengagement predicted aggression, while the interaction between moral identity and self-regulation was significant in predicting aggression and rule breaking. Specifically, at higher levels of moral identity, the positive link between moral disengagement and aggression was weaker, and the negative link between self-regulation and both antisocial behaviors was weaker. Thus, moral identity may buffer against the maladaptive effects of high moral disengagement and low self-regulation.
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- Moral Identity and Adolescent Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviors: Interactions with Moral Disengagement and Self-regulation
Sam A. Hardy
Dallas S. Bean
Joseph A. Olsen
- Springer US