Self-control and cooperation in childhood as antecedents of less moral disengagement in adolescence

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Cambridge University Press


Moral disengagement is a social cognition people use to engage in wrongdoings even when they know it is wrong. However, little is known about the antecedents that predict moral disengagement. The current study focuses on the development of self-control and cooperation during middle childhood as two antecedents of moral disengagement among 1,103 children (50% female; 77% White, 12% Black, 6% Hispanic, and 5% other). Children's self-control at age 8 and growth in self-control from age 8 to 11 were positively linked to adolescents seeing themselves as having self-control at age 15, which then predicted less moral disengagement at age 18. Children's cooperation at age 8 also was positively linked to adolescents' self-views of cooperation at age 15, which in turn, was associated with less moral disengagement at age 18. These findings demonstrate the potential of self-control and cooperation as intrapersonal and interpersonal strengths during middle childhood for mitigating moral disengagement 10 years later.



cooperation, moral development, moral disengagement, self-control, 5205 Social and Personality Psychology, 52 Psychology, Pediatric, 2.3 Psychological, social and economic factors, 2 Aetiology, 5201 Applied and developmental psychology, 5202 Biological psychology, 5203 Clinical and health psychology