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Stability and Change of Moral Disengagement and Its Impact on Aggression and Violence in Late Adolescence


  • This study was partially supported by grants from the Spencer Foundation and W. T. Grant Foundation to Albert Bandura, and from the Johann Jacobs Foundation and Ministero dell’Istruzione dell’Univesità e della Ricerca to G.V.C. (COFIN 1998, 2000, 2004) and to Eugenia Scabini (COFIN 2000–2002). We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers and Marie S. Tisak for their helpful comments and suggestions.

concerning this article should be addressed to Marinella Paciello, Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Via dei Marsi 78, 00185 Rome, Italy. Electronic mail may be sent to


Stability and change of moral disengagement were examined in a sample of 366 adolescents from ages 14 to 20 years. Four developmental trajectories were identified: (a) nondisengaged group that started with initially low levels followed by an important decline, (b) normative group that started with initially moderate levels followed by a decline, (c) later desister group that started with initially high-medium levels followed by an increase from 14 to 16 years and an even steeper decline from 16 to 20 years, and (d) chronic group that started with and maintained medium-high levels. The results attest that adolescents who maintained higher levels of moral disengagement were more likely to show frequent aggressive and violent acts in late adolescence.