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J Interpers Violence. 2019 Jun;34(11):2313-2332. doi: 10.1177/0886260516660302. Epub 2016 Jul 19.

Psychopathic Traits and Moral Disengagement Interact to Predict Bullying and Cyberbullying Among Adolescents.

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1 University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain.


The aim of this study was to test a model in which psychopathic traits (callous-unemotional, grandiose-manipulative, and impulsive-irresponsible) and moral disengagement individually and interactively predict two types of bullying (traditional and cyberbullying) in a community sample of adolescents. A total of 765 adolescents (464 girls and 301 boys) completed measures of moral disengagement and psychopathic traits at Time 1, and measures of bullying and cyberbullying at Time 1 and 1 year later, at Time 2. The results showed that callous-unemotional traits predicted both traditional bullying and cyberbullying, grandiose-manipulative and impulsive-irresponsible traits only predicted traditional bullying, and moral disengagement only predicted cyberbullying. Callous-Unemotional Traits × Moral Disengagement and Grandiose-Manipulative × Moral Disengagement were significantly correlated with the residual change in cyberbullying. Callous-unemotional traits were positively related to cyberbullying at high levels of moral disengagement but not when moral disengagement was low. In contrast, grandiose-manipulative traits were positively related to cyberbullying at low levels of moral disengagement but not when moral disengagement was high. These findings have implications for both prevention and intervention. Integrative approaches that promote moral growth are needed, including a deeper understanding of why bullying is morally wrong and ways to stimulate personality traits that counteract psychopathic traits.


adolescence; bullying; cyberbullying; moral disengagement; psychopathy


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