Moral emotions and bullying: A cross-national comparison of differences between bullies, victims and outsiders
Article first published online: 20 OCT 2003
© 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Volume 29, Issue 6, pages 515–530, December 2003
How to Cite
Menesini, E., Sanchez, V., Fonzi, A., Ortega, R., Costabile, A. and Lo Feudo, G. (2003), Moral emotions and bullying: A cross-national comparison of differences between bullies, victims and outsiders. Aggr. Behav., 29: 515–530. doi: 10.1002/ab.10060
- Issue published online: 20 OCT 2003
- Article first published online: 20 OCT 2003
- Manuscript Accepted: 16 SEP 2002
- Manuscript Received: 26 MAR 2002
- European Commission. Grant Number: CT97–0139 The research undertaken in Florence was supported in part by MURST “Co-financed Projects 2000” under the title “Benessere e malessere nelle relazioni tra coetanei: fattori cognitivi ed emotivi.”
- moral disengagement
This study aims to analyse the role of moral emotions and reasoning in relation to children's behaviour in a bullying situation. On the basis of a peer nomination questionnaire [Salmivalli et al., 1996; Sutton and Smith, 1999], children from three different cities (Seville, Florence, and Cosenza) were assigned to one of three different status groups: bullies, victims, or outsiders. Subsequently they were interviewed about their feelings in relation to the task of putting themselves in the role of the bully in a bullying scenario. Specifically, emotions such as guilt and shame, expressed in a sense of moral responsibility, and indifference and pride, expressed in an attitude of moral disengagement, were investigated. Results showed significant differences between bullies, victims, and outsiders, with regard to moral disengagement, at both the affective and cognitive levels. Across the three cities, bullies, as compared to victims and outsiders, showed a higher level of disengagement emotions and motives when they were asked to put themselves in the role of bully. At a more detailed level, analyses of specific mechanisms of moral disengagement revealed that bullies possessed a main profile of egocentric reasoning. Besides the differences between bullies and victims, cross-cultural differences were also present. Compared to children from Seville, children from the south of Italy (Cosenza) attributed higher disengagement to the bullies. Findings are discussed in relation to specific cultural characteristics of this area. Aggr. Behav. 29:515–530, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.