Adolescenten en antisociaal gedrag
Veer, J. van der
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A gender difference in antisocial behavior has been well documented, but explanations for this difference have proven elusive. In the present study it is investigated how moral cognitions and antisocial behavior relate to another to generate more knowledge about this complex relationship. The sample included 187 adolescents aged 12 to 16 from 1st and 3rd grade VMBO and VWO. The first research question is focused on the effect of a difference in the ranking of the questionnaires. A significant higher report of antisocial behavior (stealing) was found, when the behavior questionnaire was presented at the end as was the case in the control condition. And only for this control condition a significant positive relation was revealed between stealing and items of the cognitive distortion questionnaire, the How I Think questionnaire, concerning stealing. Squared Beta amounts to 12%, so the HIT accounted for 12% of the variance in stealing behavior. This provides an indication for a priming effect of the HIT on the report of antisocial stealing behavior. Further research is necessary to establish this finding. The second question is directed to the relationship between the moral cognitive variables and antisocial behavior. Consistent with Barriga et al. (2001) in this study boys evidenced more antisocial behavior and cognitive distortions, but lower moral identity than girls. No gender difference in moral reasoning has been found. In correlation analyses antisocial behavior has a significant positive association with cognitive distortions, and a negative relation with moral identity. A non significant relationship is found between moral reasoning and antisocial behavior and between moral reasoning and moral identity. Cognitive distortions have a significant negative association with both moral reasoning and moral identity. In multiple regression analyses moral identity and cognitive distortions are mediator for the association between gender and antisocial behavior. Cognitive distortions have also a mediating function in the association between moral identity and antisocial behavior. Relationships among moral identity and antisocial behavior did not vary by gender, though for boys a higher squared Beta is obtained than for girls (.33 vs. .19 respectively). Further analyses revealed that for adolescents who are in a higher grade or who have a higher level of education, moral identity becomes a more important predictor of antisocial behavior. Potential confounding effects of social desirability, location of the school and condition were controlled for. Suggestions for further research are discussed.