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Moral disengagement as a predictor of bullying and aggression: Are there gender differences?

Rhonda McConnell Turner, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the potential roles of gender and moral disengagement in aggressive behaviors including bullying, overt aggression, and relational aggression. Six hypotheses guided this investigation. First, it was hypothesized that boys would be involved in bullying at higher rates than girls. Second, it was hypothesized that boys would report higher rates of overt aggression than girls, while girls would report higher rates of relational aggression than boys. The third hypothesis was that boys would score higher on moral disengagement than girls. Hypothesis four was that moral disengagement would be predictive of bullying behaviors. Similarly, hypothesis five was that moral disengagement would be predictive of both overt and relational aggression. The final hypothesis guiding this investigation was that moral disengagement would mediate the relationships between gender and bullying, and between gender and overt and relational aggression. ^ Participants in this study included 930 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students from three Midwestern middle schools who participated in a larger longitudinal study on bullying, aggression and victimization. Findings from one-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs) supported the hypothesis that boys were involved in bullying at higher rates than girls, although follow-up analysis did not fully support gender differences for bullying. Findings did support the hypothesis that boys would be involved in overt aggression at higher rates than girls, however; no significant gender differences were found for involvement in relational aggression. The hypothesis that boys would score higher for moral disengagement was supported. Findings from bivariate linear regression analyses supported the hypotheses that moral disengagement would be predictive of bullying, and of overt and relational aggression. Finally, structural equation modeling was used to further examine the relationships among the variables. As hypothesized, moral disengagement accounted for a sizable portion of the variance by gender in bullying and overt aggression. ^ The theoretical and applied implications of these findings are discussed, along with limitations of the current investigation. Finally, possible directions for future research are identified. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Behavioral|Psychology, Social|Education, Educational Psychology

Recommended Citation

Turner, Rhonda McConnell, "Moral disengagement as a predictor of bullying and aggression: Are there gender differences?" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3315157.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3315157

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