Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 441–452 | Cite as

The Role of Individual and Collective Moral Disengagement in Peer Aggression and Bystanding: A Multilevel Analysis



This study investigates the relationships between individual and collective moral disengagement and aggression-related behaviors (peer aggression, defending, and passive bystanding) among 918 adolescents (55.8 % boys; M age = 14.1 years, SD = 1.1). Hierarchical linear modeling showed that, at the individual level, aggressive behavior was significantly explained by both individual moral disengagement and student perceived collective moral disengagement, which was also positively associated with defending. Student perceived collective moral disengagement moderated the link between individual moral disengagement and peer aggression. At the class level, classroom collective moral disengagement explained between-class variability in all the three aggression-related behaviors. These results extend previous research by demonstrating the role of collective moral disengagement at the individual and the class levels and have potential implications for interventions.


Peer aggression Bullying Defending Bystanders Moral disengagement Class norms 


Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest

Supplementary material

10802_2014_9920_MOESM1_ESM.doc (30 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 30 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental and Social PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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