Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2001, Vol. 80, No.
Copyright 2001 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 0022-3514/01/$5.00 DOI: 10.1O37//O022-3518.104.22.168
Sociocognitive Self-Regulatory Mechanisms Governing Transgressive Behavior
Gian Vittorio Caprara, Claudio Barbaranelli, and Concetta Pastorelli
University of Rome, "La Sapienza"
Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan
This longitudinal research examined a structural model of the self-regulatory mechanisms governing transgressive conduct. Perceived academic and self-regulatory efficacy concurrently and longitudinally deterred transgressiveness both directly and by fostering prosocialness and adherence to moral selfsanctions for harmful conduct. The impact of perceived social self-efficacy was mediated through prosocialness. Moral disengagement and prosocialness affected transgressiveness through the mediating influence of irascible affectivity and hostile rumination. Ruminative affectivity, in turn, both concurrently and longitudinally affected transgressiveness. Moral disengagement also contributed independently to variance in transgressiveness over time. This pattern of relations was obtained after controlling for prior transgressiveness. The structural model was replicated across gender and provided a better fit to the data than did several alternative models.
Social cognitive theory analyzes human self-development, adaptation, and change from an agentic perspective (Bandura, 1999b, 2001). The capacity to exercise some measure of control over one's thought processes, motivation, affect, and action operates through mechanisms of personal agency. Diverse lines of research have documented the prominent role that self-regulatory mechanisms play in the development and pursuit of socially valued life courses (Bandura, 1995, 1997; Caprara & Cervone, 2000; Cervone & Shoda, 1999; Schunk & Zimmerman, 1994; Zimmerman, 1989). The longitudinal research presented in this article extends this line of inquiry to self-regulatory mechanisms governing transgressive forms of behavior. Among the mechanisms of human agency, none is more focal or pervasive than beliefs of personal efficacy. In social cognitive
Albert Bandura, Department of Psychology, Stanford University; Gian Vittorio Caprara, Claudio Barbaranelli, and Concetta Pastorelli, Dipartimento di Psicologia, University of Rome, "La Sapienza," Rome, Italy; Camillo Regalia, Department of Psychology, University Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy. The research reported in this article was supported by grants from the Grant Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Jacobs Foundation. This article was prepared while Claudio Barbaranelli was a visiting scholar at Stanford University on a grant from the Fulbright Exchange Program. We thank Kay Bussey for her helpful comments on an earlier version of this article. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Albert Bandura, Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-2130, or Gian Vittorio Caprara, Dipartimento di Psicologia, Universita Degli Studi di Roma, University of Rome, "La Sapienza," Via dei Marsi 78, 00185 Roma, Italy. Electronic mail may be sent to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. 125
theory, the self-efficacy belief system is the foundation of human motivation, well-being, and personal accomplishments. Unless people believe that they can bring about desired outcomes and forestall undesired ones by their actions, they have little incentive to act or to persevere in the face of difficulties and adversities. Whatever other factors may operate as guides and motivators, they are rooted in the core belief that one has the power to influence one's own functioning and life circumstances. Perceived self-efficacy plays a pivotal role in causal structures because it affects courses of actions not only directly but also through its impact on cognitive, motivational, and affective determinants. Such beliefs influence whether people think productively, self-debilitatingly, pessimistically, or optimistically; how well they motivate themselves and persevere in the face of adversities; their vulnerability to stress and depression; and the life choices they make (Bandura, 1995, 1997; Maddux, 1995; Schwarzer, 1992). These diverse effects identify the multiple pathways through which a strong sense of efficacy oriented toward positive selfdevelopment can affect transgressive behavior. It does so, in large part, by promoting prosocialness, curtailing the propensity to disengage moral self-sanctions from socially alienating and harmful conduct, and countering ruminative and vengeful affectivity (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 1996a; Bandura, Pastorelli, Barbaranelli, & Caprara, 1999). That a resilient sense of personal efficacy is a vital personal resource has been amply documented by meta-analyses of findings from diverse spheres of functioning by heterogeneous populations in a variety of environmental conditions (Holden, 1991; Holden, Moncher, Schinke, & Barker, 1990; Multon, Brown, & Lent, 1991; Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998).
A substantial body of evidence has demonstrated the disinhibitory power of moral disengagement. & Fromson. To the extent that people consider their self-regulatory capabilities and learning efficacy in their self-appraisals. How behavior is viewed is also colored by what it is compared with. there is little reason for self-sanctions to be activated. The moral disengagement is shown in the perpetration of large-scale inhumanities (Andrus. Rapoport & Alexander. 1994. Diener. However. however. Codevelopment across diverse domains can also give rise to covariation when the development of competencies in different spheres are promoted together. 1999a). detrimental conduct can lose its repugnancy or even appear benevolent by contrasting it with more flagrant inhumanities (Bandura. For example. Elliott. Kelman & Hamilton. Moral control operates most strongly when people regard themselves as contributors to harmful outcomes. The strength of moral self-sanctions also depends partly on how perpetrators view those whom they maltreat. A second process that can promote cross-domain covariations concerns beliefs in one's learning efficacy. 1977. 1986). detrimental conduct is made personally and socially acceptable by portraying it as serving socially worthy or moral purposes (Kelman & Hamilton. Further ways of weakening moral control operate by misrepresenting the harm caused by one's conduct (Klass. the sense of personal agency for the actions taken. Perceived learning capability affects how people approach the mastery of new challenges. Keen. 1969. et al. In the present study. 1969). & Zanna. However. 1989). One such process involves metacognitive selfregulation. 1990. This disengagement is achieved by displacement and diffusion of responsibility (Bandura. 1993). Thus. Lutz. Through advantageous exonerative comparison. Milgram. 1978). 1975. Proficient performance is partly guided by higher order self-regulatory skills. students are likely to develop comparably high perceived self-efficacy in language and mathematics in superior schools but relatively low perceived selfefficacy in these diverse subjects in ineffective schools.. Underwood. 1975.126
BANDURA ET AL. minimizing. Darley. 1991. and creating self-incentives to sustain engagement in taxing activities and to manage stress and debilitating intrusive thinking. and shun involvement in delinquent pursuits (Donovan & Jessor. and there are numerous sociocognitive maneuvers by which moral self-reactions can be selectively disengaged from detrimental conduct. These domains include academic. As long as the harmful effects are ignored. 1991). 1987). Zimbardo. & Gajdos. some interdomain covariance is expected. 1999a). Reich. The self-regulatory mechanisms through which moral agency is exercised are of special relevance to the self-management of transgressive behavior. Adoption of particular lifestyles also clusters activity domains for codevelopment. They center on the construal of injurious conduct itself. distorted. minimized. through perceived similarity. 1992). et al. and the characterization of the recipients of maltreatment. which include generic skills for evaluating task demands. students who are academically oriented are likely to pursue a supportive constellation of extracurricular activities. Weiner. 1982. Thus. Underwood. empathic reactions that counteract cruelty (Bandura. 1991). Ascription of blame to the victims for their plight or to compelling circumstances can serve selfexonerative purposes (Crick & Dodge.. The final set of disengagement mechanisms operates on the recipients of detrimental acts. constructing alternative options. Rapoport & Alexander. Diener. Bandura. Such generalizable self-regulatory skills enable people to improve their performance in a variety of activities (Meichenbaum & Asarnow. 1995). In social cognitive theory (Bandura. 1975. Having achieved success in a particular activity domain can create a more general sense of efficacy to learn in other life situations. 1974. To justify and disown responsibility for the harm done to others and to dehuman-
A growing body of evidence shows that efficacy beliefs are linked to domains of functioning rather than conforming to an undifferentiated trait (Bandura. duct unless they are activated. 1970. social cognitive theory identifies several processes that can produce some covariation even across distinct activity domains. These self-reactive influences serve as the motivational and cognitive regulators of moral conduct. moral agency has dual aspects—inhibitive and proactive. Tilker. 1990. 1997). Zimbardo. we examined the role of three major domains of perceived personal efficacy that have been verified cross-culturally (Pastorelli et al. Sanford & Comstock. social. To perceive another person as human activates. Jeffery. Underwood. 1985. 1978. The inhibitive form of morality is expressed in the power to refrain from behaving inhumanely. Generic metastrategies learned in one realm of activity tend to be used in other activity domains (Bandura.. 1975). which do not promote much in the way of academic competencies in any subject matter. Ferguson & Rule. 1988. and self-regulatory efficacy to resist peer pressure for transgressive activities. One set of disengagement practices operates on the cognitive construal of the conduct itself. 1986). The second set of disengagement mechanisms operates by obscuring. setting proximal goals to guide one's efforts. Through moral justification. 1975. 1979. After individuals adopt personal standards. Personal standards do not function as invariant internal regulators of conduct. self-censure for cruel conduct can be disengaged by dehumanization that strips people of human qualities or invests them with demonic or bestial qualities (Bandura. Reich. their negative self-sanctions for actions that violate their standards and their positive self-reactions for conduct faithful to their moral standards serve as the regulatory influences (Bandura. 1982. Language shapes the thoughts on which actions are based. In the conception of moral agency. The proactive form of morality is expressed in the power to behave humanely. or disbelieved. 1982. Self-sanctions do not impinge on con-
. Beaman. 1974. social cognitive theory specifies eight mechanisms of moral disengagement that operate at different points in the control of behavior by moral self-sanctions (Bandura. 1989. 1989. Haritos-Fatouros. Zimmerman. Klosson. 1971). Research in which proneness to moral disengagement is assessed verifies some of the processes through which it is presumed to operate. the representation of the injurious effects that flow from actions. 1997). cultivate prosocial relationships. 1990) and social punitiveness in laboratory conditions conducive to disengagement of moral selfsanctions (Bandura. 1983. Diener. & Fraser. 1977. Dineen. or disclaiming the agentive role in the harm that one causes. Sanitizing euphemisms and convoluted language is widely used to make harmful conduct look respectable or benign (Bollinger. in press) and shown to be predictive of developmental outcomes (Bandura. they will exhibit at least some generality in their sense of personal efficacy across different activities. Milgram. although self-efficacy beliefs are multifaceted rather than undifferentiated. Endresen.
Perceived self-efficacy to regulate one's academic activities and to ward off peer pressure to engage in detrimental activities both directly and mediationally affects transgressive behavior by supporting prosocialness. The conceptual analysis presented thus far has examined how particular sociocognitive determinants separately foster or deter detrimental conduct and the supportive empirical evidence for their contributory role. sharing. Individuals who have a low threshold for anger arousal and are prone to hostile rumination behave more punitively than those who are slower to anger and disinclined to dwell on grievances and possible retaliations (Caprara. perceived social efficacy affects transgressive conduct through the mediated effects of prosocialness. Posited causal structure through which perceived self-efficacy and moral disengagement operate in concert with other sociocognitive factors to concurrently and longitudinally affect transgressive conduct. We proximally and longitudinally analyzed the paths of influence. A prosocial orientation also deters aggressive conduct by fostering social networks conducive to harmonious relationships and empathic and vicarious emotional arousal over the suffering of others (Bandura. including interpersonal breaches by lying. Situationally induced anger arousal has been shown to increase the likelihood and intensity of injurious behavior (Berkowitz. 2000. & Pastorelli. and stealing. Barbaranelli. and empathicness. Caprara. 1998. Many people are quick to rouse themselves into angered states by ruminating over perceived insults. and are more prone to vengeful rumination (Bandura. Prosocialness operates as another influential factor in the posited causal structure. Eisenberg & Fabes. Pastorelli. Miller & Eisenberg. An agentic perspective assigns a prominent role to selfgenerated emotional arousal and affect regulation in the selfmanagement of socioemotional life (Bandura. 1993. Caprara. Patterson. Hostile ruminative affectivity not only distorts thinking but also predisposes people to untoward conduct. 1985. 1973). and empathicness. Bandura. Alcini. Coluzzi. 1988). and low proneness to vindictive rumination. Caprara et al. The behavioral effects of ruminative affectivity have been corroborated experimentally in simulated conditions in which participants can inflict shocks of varying intensity on provocateurs. and substance abuse. Barbaranelli. is one such factor that helps to promote advantageous self-development (Bandura et al. Caprara. The instigators to detrimental conduct often involve problems of thought. 1996a).
. Anger arousal often fuels retali-
ative schemes. We posited the following structural relations among the mediating factors. Mazzotti. Amolini. Wentzel. Self-exoneration for wrongdoing fosters a self-righteousness that not only justifies one's conduct but also breeds inimical rumination. Children who exhibited high prosocialness. & Travaglia. 1997. especially if combined with infirm capability for affect self-regulation. Effective moral disengagement also frees one from the restraints of self-censure experienced as anticipative guilt for detrimental conduct. destructiveness. Feshbach & Feshbach. Anger arousal dissipates with time. as reflected in cooperativeness. 1986). Zillmann. 1984. Those who strongly ad-
Figure I.. 1986. & Zelli. Figure 1 summarizes schematically the direct and mediated links in the posited structural model. 1992. would refrain from ruminative vengefulness toward others. & Zimbardo. are less prosocial. 1992. Reid. and indignities. helpfulness. as manifested in helping. D'Imperio. In recent years. we examined how these various self-regulatory determinants operate in concert within an integrative causal structure in governing transgressive behavior. 1999b). high moral disengagers experience low guilt over injurious conduct. 1991). 1983. 1996b. inequities. In the present study. & Travaglia. D'Imperio. Renzi. People live extensively in a psychic environment that is largely of their own making.SELF-REGULATORY MECHANISMS IN TRANSGRESSIVENESS
ize and blame them for their maltreatment are not conducive to prosocial relationships. Renzi. 1983). sharing. & Dishion. verbal and physical assaults.. Transgressiveness encompassed varied detrimental conduct. Caprara. a conceptual shift has been witnessed from the prevailing focus on the impact of negative risk factors on developmental trajectories toward the influential role of positive enablement factors in shaping the directions that lives take. Renzi. but it can be repeatedly regenerated by cognitive self-arousal (Bandura. adherence to moral self-sanctions. In addition. Indeed. cheating. Prosocialness.
The estimated reliabilities were . The socioeconomic diversity of the sample adds to the generalizability of the findings. & Pastorelli. Brooks-Gunn. Perceived Academic Self-Efficacy. educational.. wine. and social role transitions (Eccles & Midgley. The community from which the participants were selected represents a microcosm of the larger society. The predictive validity of these different forms of perceived self-efficacy is supported by findings of prior studies (Bandura et al. and manage different types of interpersonal conflicts. parental. 1996). Perceived academic self-efficacy measured the children's belief in their capabilities to master different areas of course work. 1989). to seek pertinent information and get teachers and peers to help them with academic problems when needed. For each cohort. science. and cooperativeness (Caprara & Pastorelli. in press). 1999. For example.83 for Perceived Self-Regulatory Efficacy. to plan and organize their academic activities. In addition. Caprara. farmers. and to refuse unreasonable requests.
environments conducive to learning. 1996b). to use cognitive strategies to enhance understanding and memory of the material being taught. Hungarian. and to fulfill personal. The first factor. & Martinez-Pons. . 1986). The various sociocognitive measures were administered over a period of several days at each phase of the study. "I try to help others" and "I try to make sad people happier" are sample items. Self-assertive efficacy measured children's beliefs in their capabilities to voice their opinions when they differ from those held by others. These three factors constituted 16. containing families of skilled workers. The study was structured to the parents and the children as a project designed to gain a better understanding of child development. Cook. Elder. 1992). The triadic factor structure of these multidimensional efficacy scales has been replicated cross-nationally with Italian. It is also a period of experimentation with risky activities and substance use (Elliott. respectively. "How well can you express your opinions when other classmates disagree with you?" is a sample item assessing perceived self-assertive efficacy. Bandura. Zimmerman et al. to stand up to mistreatment or harassment.
hered to moral self-sanctions against hurting others would be more likely than high moral disengagers to act prosocially in their interpersonal relationships and to exhibit a low propensity for irascible affectivity and hostile rumination.128
BANDURA ET AL. and to pursue academic activities when there are other interesting things to do. "How well can you live up to what your parents expect of you?" typifies items in the perceived efficacy domain to fulfill social expectations. and Polish children (Pastorelli et al. Graber. 30% were unskilled workers. reading and writing language skills. Barbaranelli.
The participants in this longitudinal study were 564 children tested initially at 11 years of age with staggered annual starts for two separate cohorts. and for leisure-time social activities. Each research proposal must be approved by a school council composed of parent and teacher representatives as well as student representatives at the junior high and high school levels. Coefficients of . 1993. For each item. There were 304 boys and 260 girls. Adaptation in the adolescent phase was selected for study because it is an especially important period in the life course when adolescents have to concurrently manage major biological. or liquor?" Perceived social self-efficacy measured children's beliefs in their capabilities to form and maintain social relationships. 1996b. Furstenberg. Italy.. teachers. To avoid a possible response bias. work cooperatively with others. and 1% were retired. The item "How well can you study when there are other interesting things to do?" measured children's perceived efficacy to motivate themselves for academic pursuits in the face of competing attractions. and children are free to decline to take part if they so choose.2%.90 for Perceived Academic Self-Efficacy. Informed consent was obtained from 100% of the families. in turn. was represented by 5 items measuring perceived capability to resist peer pressure to engage in high-risk activities. The internal consistency
. Prosocialness and moral disengagement would concurrently and longitudinally affect transgressive behavior both directly as well as mediationally through ruminative affectivity. We selected the participants from two schools in a residential community located near Rome. Bandura et al. and local merchants and their service staffs. to get themselves to complete scholastic assignments within set deadlines. to master academic subjects. the sociocognitive factors and transgressiveness assessed in the sixth grade served as predictors of level of involvement in transgressive activities in the eighth grade. A principal-components factor analysis revealed a three-factor structure. Perceived self-efficacy to meet others' expectations assessed children's beliefs in their capabilities to fulfill what their parents. Perceived Self-Regulatory Efficacy.4% of the variance. This community adheres to a stringent consent procedure for the conduct of research in the schools. and . professionals. and teachers' academic expectations. These scales assessed children's efficacy to arrange
Children rated their prosocialness on a 10-item scale that assessed their degree of helpfulness. 16% were skilled workers... in press. with 91 % of the sample reassessed in the follow-up phase of the study. & Petersen. The data regarding the variables of theoretical interest were collected in the children's classrooms by two female experimenters. The item "How well can you get teachers to help you when you get stuck on schoolwork?" measured perceived self-efficacy to enlist enabling social resources. the following item assessed perceived self-regulatory efficacy to rebuff pressures exerted by peers to drink alcoholic beverages: "How well can you resist peer pressure to drink beer. A third set of scales assessed efficacy for leisure and extracurricular activities involving mainly group extracurricular activities. The reliability of the factors of perceived self-efficacy was assessed by the squared multiple correlations of factor scores. sharing. children used a 5-point response format to rate the strength of their belief in their capability to execute the designated activities. Low ruminative affectivity. Perceived Social Self-Efficacy constituted the second factor. included high loadings on 19 items measuring perceived capability to manage one's own learning. 1992). Fifteen percent were in professional or managerial ranks. 1993). Bandura. 8. parents must give consent. A fourth set of scales assessed children's self-regulatory efficacy to resist peer pressure to engage in high-risk activities involving the use of alcohol and drugs and transgressive behavior that could get them into trouble. 38% were merchants or operators of other types of businesses. would reduce the likelihood of transgressive behavior. kindness. Eccles.
Children's beliefs in their efficacy were measured by 37 items representing seven domains of functioning (Bandura. A second set of scales measured children's perceived self-efficacy for regulating their own learning activities (Zimmerman. and peers expect of them and to live up to what they expect of themselves. and social studies. we also included several control items in this scale. Jessor. & Sameroff. 1989. The third factor. The low attrition was due chiefly to relocation from the area or absence from school at the time of the assessment. to motivate themselves to do their schoolwork. and 5.2%.80 for Perceived Social Self-Efficacy. The subjects included mathematics. 1990. The latter children did not differ significantly from their counterparts on any of the variables in the initial assessment. consoling.70 or higher are indicators of stable factors (Tabachnik & Fidell. for self-assertiveness. The 13 items loading on this factor included perceived capability for peer relationships.
and irascible affectivity.35 59.36*** .87 for male adolescents at the second assessment.57 0.
Prior to conducting the analyses.52***
*p<. p < . McConaughy.69 5.18** -. The reliability coefficients were .02 -.
The affective contributors to transgressive behavior were measured by a latent variable labeled ruminative affectivity comprising two facets—rumination self-arousal and irascibility.05 _14*** . 1987)." was labeled ruminative affectivity so as to be more descriptive of its dual affective components.96 64.73 for girls and . were more prone to disengage moral self-sanctions for harmful conduct.86. p < .28*** -. community.17*** .16 6.68.01.. minimizing the harmful effects of one's detrimental conduct.09. The item "Kids cannot be blamed for misbehaving if their friends pressured them to do it" measured displacement of responsibility.0001.06 -. Compared with girls. and theft. This latent variable.22*** .001. One-way analyses of variance of gender variations revealed significant differences on all of the assessed variables except perceived social efficacy. whether they did so only occasionally or often. & Howell. cheating.76 and . Therefore.77.82 3.12** _ 23*** _ -.83 for irascible affectivity. 2. 6. previously called "aggression proneness. if they did. and peers' sociometric nominations (Caprara & Pastorelli. F(l. As we noted earlier. 7. and the
Each of the eight mechanisms of moral disengagement was measured by four subsets of items (Bandura et al.52 14. the predictive validity of these measures has been verified experimentally.58.01 -. F(\. 4. Factor analysis of the items revealed a onefactor structure with all items loading on the principal factor.27*** -. 8. For example. The scale items encompassed diverse forms of detrimental conduct in a variety of contextual conditions and in different types of social relationships. theft. p < . 562) = 13. 3. The subscale. "If people are careless where they leave things it is their own fault if they get stolen" was one of the items measuring attribution of blame to the victims. showed it to be a well-defined latent construct. truancy.22*** . p < . and attributing blame to them.86 for hostile rumination and . The high factor loadings of . Standard Deviations.63 for the boys and the girls. teachers'. The factor structure and the concurrent validity of this measure have been corroborated in studies relating children's self-ratings to level of prosocialness as rated by parents'. and peer relations. The alpha reliability coefficient for this measure was . F(l.85 for boys at the initial assessment and .73. The participants recorded whether they engaged in such antisocial activities and. deception. 562) = 69.67 1 — . M 3. we examined the data for univariate and multivariate outlying cases by using the procedure devised by Tabachnik and Fidell (1989).
Transgressive behavior was measured initially and 2 years later by the Delinquency subscale of the Child Behavior Checklist developed by Achenbach and Edelbrock (1978). were less prosocial. verbal abuse. Rumination self-arousal assessed with 15 items the level of preoccupation with personal grievances and hostile and retaliative ideation.03 -.31*** .32*** 7 -.28*** -. covers a wide range of transgressive behaviors. and use of alcohol and drugs.01. F(l. and Correlation Matrix for the Various Sociocognitive Self-Regulatory Factors and Transgressive Behavior Assessed Concurrently and Longitudinally Variable 1.25*** .45*** -. They tapped readiness to construe injurious conduct as serving righteous purposes. "It takes very little for things to bug me" is a sample item.19*** — -.41*** .11* -.
. were more prone to ruminative self-arousal.01.27*** . For each of the 32 items. devaluing those who are maltreated. The alpha reliability coefficients were . Both the reliability and the predictive validity of this measure of transgressive behavior are well established (Achenbach.07 -. boys expressed lower academic self-efficacy.12 24.01. 1996a).02 5.
***/><. the more I think about it the angrier I feel" and "Sometimes I can't sleep because of a wrong done to me" assessed ruminative selfarousal of anger. including physical and verbal aggression. masquerading censurable activities by palliative language or rendering them benign by advantageous comparison.50. comprising 14 items.82 for female adolescents and . we summed responses to the items to form a composite measure of moral disengagement. The social contexts encompassed educational. The detrimental activities involved physically injurious and destructive conduct.
repudiation of moral exonerations of detrimental conduct. 562) = 9.91. "Some people deserve to be treated like animals" measured proclivity for dehumanization. Two participants with extreme standard scores on transgressive behavior were detected and eliminated from subsequent analyses.18*** -. p < .Q5. the items "When I am outraged.43** .31*** 49*** -. p < . comprising 22 items for boys and 19 items for girls. and lower self-regulatory efficacy. 562) = 29. Table 1 presents the means and standard deviations for the various sociocognitive factors and the matrix of correlations between them and transgressive behavior at both time periods.31*** . and low scores signify a high level of moral engagement.60 20.SELF-REGULATORY MECHANISMS IN TRANSGRESSIVENESS reliability was . 562) = 7. F(l.0001. p < . disowning responsibility for harmful effects by displacement or diffusion of responsibility. children rated the strength of their endorsement or
Table 1 Means.16*** -.77 6.22*** . To cite some examples.64 0.33*** . lying. respectively. destructiveness.34 93.25*** . and engaged more heavily in transgressive activities in both the initial phase. Their responses were scored on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree) for the various disengagement practices.89 4. 9. 562) = 9.31*** -. F(l. The irascibility measure.24 18.01. Academic efficacy Social efficacy Self-regulatory efficacy Prosocial behavior Moral disengagement Irascibility Hostile rumination Transgressive behavior 1 Transgressive behavior 2 **/><. F(l. familial.001. High scores signify a high level of moral disengagement. measured proneness to negative affectivity in terms of ready anger arousal in social transactions and high testiness even to slight provocations.35. 562) = 9. 1993).22 SD 0. 5.22 4.
Moral disengagement contributed to concurrent transgressiveness through ruminative affectivity but operated independently on distal transgressive behavior. 1995). This nonsignificant path coefficient is in italic type. a comparative fit index of . which estimated simultaneously the same pattern of relationships among variables in the two samples of boys and girls. contributed both concurrently and longitudinally to variance in transgressive behavior. All of the path coefficients are significant at the p s .05 level. which.130
BANDURA ET AL. Most of the posited structural links among the mediating factors were verified.29) V Behavior 2
Figure 2. In a Gender X Time multivariate analysis of transgressive behavior. the second coefficient in parentheses is for girls. These tests yielded a nonsignificant ^ ( 5 3 . The analysis revealed no omitted paths of influence from those specified in the structural model. Scott-Lennox & Scott-Lennox. The posited causal structure was fully replicated across gender. We analyzed the structural model by using the multiple-groups model approach.99. and a root-mean-square error of approximation of .
longitudinal phase of the study.
Paths of Influence
We tested the posited causal structure on the covariance matrices by using the EQS program (Bentler. although moral disengagement contributed more heavily to aggression proneness in boys than in girls. Equivalence is evaluated by constraints that impose identical estimates for the model's parameters (Byrne. . p = . moral disengagement.39. the plausibility of these equality constraints is examined by the Lagrange Multipliers test (Bentler. Path analysis of the patterns of influence through which perceived self-efficacy and moral disengagement affect transgressive conduct. The first path coefficient on each of the structural links is for boys. prosocialness. 562) = 65. The trimmed model provided an excellent fit to the empirical data as shown by all the different goodness-of-fit indexes considered. In accord with the posited structural model.
A number of alternative causal models were also tested. perceived academic self-efficacy was concurrently and distally linked to low engagement in transgressive behavior both directly and through the mediation of prosocialness and strong adherence to moral self-sanctions.029). neither the main effect of time nor the Gender X Time interaction was significant.43. F(l. The second model conferred causal primacy on ruminative affectivity. Children with a strong prosocial orientation refrained from moral disengagement. Figure 2 presents the results of the path analysis using Time 1 predictors of Time 2 transgressive conduct. a high sense of efficacy to withstand peer pressure for transgressive activities curbed engagement in transgressive behavior at the initial and the longitudinal phase both directly and by supporting moral engagement. 27% of the variance in Time 2 transgressiveness for boys. and 26% of the variance in Time 2 transgressiveness for girls. The model accounted for 36% of the variance in Time 1 transgressiveness for both boys and girls.36. 1995). Low prosocialness and facile moral disengagement were accompanied by hostile ruminative
affectivity.009 (. and ruminative affectivity. which contributed to distal
Transgressive \ 2 9 > ( Transgressive Behavior 1 / r. a nonnormed fit index of . Level of engagement in transgressive behavior at the longitudinal time point was the distal outcome variable. except that boys' prosocial behavior was unrelated to ruminative affectivity. The coefficients with an asterisk on the paths differ significantly between boys and girls. 1994. The effect of prosocialness on transgressive behavior was also mediated through ruminative affectivity.99. In EQS. In one model. in turn.00. and prosocialness operated as the counteractor of ruminative affectivity in girls.
. 1995). Similarly. As we further hypothesized. N = 564) = 55. p < . The main departure from the posited conceptual model was that perceived academic and self-regulatory efficacy were mediationally rather than directly linked to ruminative affectivity through prosocialness and moral disengagement. prior transgressiveness was assigned causal primacy affecting subsequent transgressiveness directly and through its impact on perceived self-efficacy. the desistive impact of perceived social self-efficacy on transgressive behavior was mediated through enhancement of prosocialness.0001.
Prosocialness was linked to low ruminative affectivity for girls but not for boys. The old adage that birds of a feather flock together professes the significance of differential peer bonding. Discussion The findings of the present study lend considerable support for the posited paths of influence through which self-regulatory factors contribute to level of transgressiveness. Transgressive adolescents may be prosocial with peers who are antisocially oriented (Cairns & Cairns. As we hypothesized. but adjudicated delinquents fall at the extreme of unstable social connectedness. 1990). 1992. Gender differences in the various facets of prosocialness in the present study are in accord with the latter interpretation. Perry. Male adolescents. A second possible interpretation is in terms of the affective quality of peer relationships. The male adolescents had lower perceived academic and self-regulatory efficacy. operate as complementary rather than competing factors in gender differences in how prosocialness is linked to ruminative affectivity. A similar regulative shift over time is observed in other forms of adaptation.. Perceived academic and self-regulatory factors concurrently and longitudinally curtailed transgressiveness both directly and by fostering prosocialness and adherence to moral self-sanctions for harmful conduct. Seriously antisocial individuals may not be especially empathic and caring toward anyone (Marcus. 1986. not only were the links in the postulated structural model empirically verified. & Boldizar. 1996. were quicker to rouse themselves to anger through hostile rumination. Perry. Further tests of the aforementioned alternative models. & Hofman. differed on self-regulatory factors assigned a prominent role in social cognitive theory in the self-management of transgressive conduct. but with reversed direction of causation in which prosocialness curbed moral disengagement. Tannen. helpful. adolescents with a high sense of self-regulatory efficacy communicate openly with their parents about predicaments they face outside the home and enlist their parents' guidance and support in managing peer pressures to engage in detrimental activities (Caprara et al. Prosocialness would thus have differential effects on ruminative affectivity depending on the types of peers with whom one associates and their level of emotional disclosure. the posited causal structure was essentially replicated across gender. Bussey & Bandura. With a few exceptions. Claes & Simard. Prior research has shown that the various facets of perceived self-efficacy and moral disengagement operate as influential contributors to academic achievement (Bandura et al. Elliott. Eagly & Steffen. of course. Sharabany. 1996b). These differences in self-regulatory influence add to the growing body of evidence that sociocognitive factors account for a major share of the variance in gender differences in detrimental conduct (Bettencourt & Kernahan. The nature of the affiliative linkages discussed above may account for the absence of a residual direct link to transgressiveness. Several of the hypothesized paths in the structural model were not verified. their prosocialness is likely to create little occasion both cognitively and through amicable affiliations for anger arousal and vindictive ideation. Moral disengagement affected transgressiveness through its influence on ruminative affectivity in the short run. In each case. Huizinga. 1996). and affectionately demonstrative. permit corrections of misconstruals.SELF-REGULATORY MECHANISMS IN TRANSGRESSIVENESS transgressiveness directly and through its influence on the mediating factors described above. similarly provided a poorer fit to the data. Perceived academic and self-regulatory efficacy affected ruminative affectivity through their positive impact on prosocialness and curtailment of moral disengagement rather than directly. Bettencourt & Miller. Girls are more likely than boys to engage their peers in discussions of their negative feelings toward others (Buhrmester. Beliefs of personal efficacy affect social relationships. Adolescents who related prosocially to others and who eschewed moral disengagement were disinclined to engage in angering and retaliative rumination. for adolescents who repudiate harmful conduct. the alternative causal models provided a poorer fit to the empirical data than did the posited structural model. such
. but directly in the long run. In a third model. The role of sociocognitive influences in the selection and structuring of peer relationships and whether those social ties promote deviancy or prosocialness clearly warrant study. moral disengagement was the causally primary factor operating on distal transgressiveness independently and through the mediating factors.. the impact of perceived social self-efficacy was mediated through prosocialness. Gershoni. but the model provided a better fit to the empirical data than did several plausible alternative models. and these alternative models fared less well on the other indexes of goodness of fit. & Ageton. Talking things out may weaken the intensity of troublesome experiences. but girls are substantially more consoling. Prosocialness mediationally but not directly affected transgressiveness by lessening ruminative affectivity and readiness to disengage moral self-sanctions. Boys and girls do not differ in the sociability facets. 1997. Disengagement of moral self-sanctions also contributed independently to subsequent transgressiveness. 1985). 1999. they no longer need to operate through self-arousing affective states. Compatible associativity and emotional supportiveness may. This pattern of linkage suggests that as cognitive modes of moral disengagement get routinized. Evidence that these factors also operate influentially in transgressive conduct adds to the explanatory and predictive generality of sociocognitive theory. sharing. The magnitude of difference may reflect the lower level and lesser variance on both factors for the girls. In contrast. as are nondeviant adolescents whose peer associates are disinclined to engage in serious wrongdoing. but the link was stronger for boys. Peer groups are not homogeneous. Adolescents who are irascible and hostilely ruminative may behave prosocially with like-minded aggressive peers to whom they gravitate. were more prone to disengage moral self-sanctions from detrimental conduct. 1990. 1990). Hyde. 1998). For example. 1991. Only two paths in the structural model differed by gender. Differential
associational networks may account for this gender difference. who were more heavily engaged than female adolescents in transgressive activities. Apparently. and suggest socially reparative actions. Although male and female participants differed in level of self-regulatory determinants. Moral disengagement was accompanied by ruminative affectivity for both boys and girls. Ruminative hostility is likely to flourish in the absence of ameliorative social feedback. 1981. and were less prosocially oriented. the more proximally germane empathic and moral cognitive processes had determinative priority. Ruminative affectivity was both concurrently and longitudinally linked to transgressive conduct. 1984. All of the chi-square tests were significant.
sex. If every angering experience or vindictive thought triggered aggressive acts. Wegner & Pennebaker. In social cognitive theory (Bandura. such as proneness to ruminative affectivity. As we previously noted. in which emotional arousal initially plays a facilitative role. 1986). Cognitions have been shown to operate as significant mediators of situational incitements (Baumgardner. 1997). Preliminary research in other domains of func-
as avoidant lifestyles. Elliott and Rhinehart (1995) found that proclivity to moral disengagement predicted both felony and misdemeanor assaults and thefts regardless of age. One explanation is that. and social class. Self-management of affect does not rely solely on cognitive means. The participants rated the extent to which they engaged in transgressive activities and used alcohol and drugs.132
BANDURA ET AL. The second mode of self-arousal operates through the trains of thoughts that people conjure up and dwell on (Bandura. Research on the effects of situational provocation has added substantially to our understanding of the conditions in which induced anger arousal is likely to spur aggressive actions (Berkowitz. Affect arousal is often construed in terms of a state-trait distinction reflecting situational and dispositional activation. Several rearousal mechanisms have been proposed as explanatory contenders. Bandura. The self-management of affect takes several forms (Bandura. In a national longitudinal study in Korea. 1991. But the self-arousal mechanism is similarly involved at different time points regardless of whether self-arousal is situationally prompted and experienced as a current state or later cognitively activated by remembrances of past indignities. 1969. religious affiliation. 1983). However. which occur mainly outside the school. Zillmann. and behavioral means (Bandura. 1973. Proneness to angering and retaliative rumination was positively linked to transgressiveness both concurrently and over time. aggressive individuals manage to create by their actions hostile environments. race. Social cognitive theory treats personal dispositions. in which social arrangements are more uniform. Crick & Dodge. accompanying trains of thought. Kelman. or is thoughtless from the outset and remains so thereafter is open to speculation and empirical verification. The findings of the present study verify the influential role of perceived self-regulatory efficacy in the management of peer transgressive pressures. 1990. it is performed independently of emotional arousal (Bandura. palliative. 1993). Whether the situationally cued linkage is initially cognitively mediated but then becomes thoughtless through routinized rearousal. For example. data from the elementary school period. 1998). If provocation produced only transitory arousal. situational cues alone become
. 1994. efficient functioning requires a dual-process mix of routinized action patterns under lower sensorimotor control and mindful activity regulated cognitively. 1999b). who have the highest accessibility to their children's behavior. The nature and locus of the events that set off perturbing thought processes may differ currently and on future occasions. 1976. 1993. children who had a low sense of academic and self-regulatory efficacy and were facile to moral disengagement showed a high propensity for antisocial conduct (Kwak & Bandura. 1965). People can also moderate by palliative means their affective states once they arise without altering their determinants. People exert control over their emotional wellbeing by the environments that they select and create through their styles of behavior (Bandura. Ferguson & Rule. There is a major difference between possessing self-regulatory skills and unwaveringly applying them in the face of stiff peer pressure for transgressive activities and maddening provocation. . cognitive. Social cognitive theory of aggression broadens the cognitive contribution by adding the self-activation function of cognition (Bandura. they have little firsthand accessibility to transgressive activities and substance use. situationally induced anger dissipates over time. It also played a mediating role in the impact of prosocialness and moral disengagement on transgressive behavior. is always cognitively mediated. 1973). revealed significant congruence of ratings of aggressive and transgressive conduct across sources and methods. In the perpetration of large-scale inhumanities through collective moral disengagement. People do not act naively on anger and vengeful thoughts. 1999b). In the transition to junior high school. The children's self-ratings correlated . 1984). conditioned activators (Berkowitz. through associative coupling.37 with peers' sociometric ratings. individuals would be endlessly embroiled in serious social and legal troubles. speaks most strongly to the reliability of participants' self-ratings. however. it would be of little importance. Everyday life is strewn with experiences that generate negative affect. Self-efficacy theory is currently being extended to the selfregulation of affective states. 1993). The grouping of classmates also varies across the different academic course arrangements. 1997). The high correlation with ratings by parents. Experimental investigations and field studies of thought sampling of self-arousal linked to contextual circumstances. Self-efficacy to manage one's emotional life is concerned with perceived capability to regulate both positive and negative emotions through construal. Moreover. The findings of other studies attest to the generalizability of particular paths of influence in the structural model. their socioeducational realities become more diverse. Situational reminders of maddening experiences can certainly rouse one to anger. 1997). Adaptiveness requires self-management of affective states through exercise of self-regulatory capabilities. 1999b). 1973. 1986). whereas amicable individuals generate harmonious social milieus (Raush.24 with teachers' ratings. The findings of the present study underscore the influential role of cognitive self-arousal in fostering detrimental conduct. and . and adaptive actions can add to our understanding of how negative affectivity contributes to detrimental conduct. Their contribution to aggression enhancement has been studied primarily in terms of the cognitive labeling of emotional states in theories of emotion and in terms of ascriptions of causality and blame for detrimental conduct in attribution theory. Rule & Nesdale. 1988). as dynamic self-arousal processes (Bandura. People influence their emotional states by whether they construe events in affect-laden or more benign ways (Crick & Dodge. What gives enduring significance to past angering experiences is that they create proneness for affective rearousal on future occasions. Another form of affect regulation by behavioral means is concerned with whether people give vent to their emotions or restrain their expression (Gross. pernicious conduct gets routinized to the point where it is carried out with unexcited efficiency (Andrus. 1994.51 with parental ratings. They have multiple teachers who are a less reliable evaluative source because their observations are largely limited to behavior in the particular course that they teach. Lazarus & Folkman. but as the behavior becomes habitualized.
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In DC add 5. A. Research in Social Psychology. (1992). Psychological Bulletin. ami applications (pp. Call for international subscription rates. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (1983). & Pennebaker. G.