Disengaging from evil: Longitudinal associations between the dark triad, moral disengagement, and antisocial behavior in adolescence

Jelle Sijtsema*, Carlo Garofalo, Kim Jansen, Theo Klimstra

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Previous work has identified important correlational linkages between the dark triad of personality (Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism) and antisocial behavior in adolescence. However, little is known about the longitudinal associations between these personality characteristics and antisocial behavior, and the processes underlying these linkages. We hypothesized positive bidirectional associations between the dark triad and antisocial behavior, and that increases in moral disengagement would underlie these longitudinal associations. In the current study, we examined these hypotheses in 502 Dutch adolescents (51.8% boys, Mage = 13.57, SD = 1.07) across three annual waves. Path models showed that antisocial behavior was positively associated with relative increases in moral disengagement, a general dark personality factor, and Machiavellianism specifically, but not the other way around. These paths were only observed in boys and more pronounced during the first year of the study. Finally, antisocial behavior was partly indirectly associated to psychopathy across time via antisocial behavior and moral disengagement at a later time point. Together, these findings suggest that dark personality characteristics and moral disengagement development are more likely to be the result of changes in antisocial behavior than the other way around.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1351-1365
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume47
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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Machiavellianism
Moral Development
Narcissism

Keywords

  • AGGRESSION
  • Adolescence
  • Antisocial conduct
  • CONCISE MEASURE
  • DIRTY DOZEN
  • Dark triad
  • Development
  • MACHIAVELLIANISM
  • Moral cognitions
  • NARCISSISM
  • NEUTRALIZATION
  • POPULARITY
  • PSYCHOPATHIC PERSONALITY
  • TRAITS
  • YOUTH

Cite this

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title = "Disengaging from evil: Longitudinal associations between the dark triad, moral disengagement, and antisocial behavior in adolescence",
abstract = "Previous work has identified important correlational linkages between the dark triad of personality (Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism) and antisocial behavior in adolescence. However, little is known about the longitudinal associations between these personality characteristics and antisocial behavior, and the processes underlying these linkages. We hypothesized positive bidirectional associations between the dark triad and antisocial behavior, and that increases in moral disengagement would underlie these longitudinal associations. In the current study, we examined these hypotheses in 502 Dutch adolescents (51.8{\%} boys, Mage = 13.57, SD = 1.07) across three annual waves. Path models showed that antisocial behavior was positively associated with relative increases in moral disengagement, a general dark personality factor, and Machiavellianism specifically, but not the other way around. These paths were only observed in boys and more pronounced during the first year of the study. Finally, antisocial behavior was partly indirectly associated to psychopathy across time via antisocial behavior and moral disengagement at a later time point. Together, these findings suggest that dark personality characteristics and moral disengagement development are more likely to be the result of changes in antisocial behavior than the other way around.",
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author = "Jelle Sijtsema and Carlo Garofalo and Kim Jansen and Theo Klimstra",
year = "2019",
doi = "10.1007/s10802-019-00519-4",
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TY - JOUR

T1 - Disengaging from evil

T2 - Longitudinal associations between the dark triad, moral disengagement, and antisocial behavior in adolescence

AU - Sijtsema, Jelle

AU - Garofalo, Carlo

AU - Jansen, Kim

AU - Klimstra, Theo

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - Previous work has identified important correlational linkages between the dark triad of personality (Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism) and antisocial behavior in adolescence. However, little is known about the longitudinal associations between these personality characteristics and antisocial behavior, and the processes underlying these linkages. We hypothesized positive bidirectional associations between the dark triad and antisocial behavior, and that increases in moral disengagement would underlie these longitudinal associations. In the current study, we examined these hypotheses in 502 Dutch adolescents (51.8% boys, Mage = 13.57, SD = 1.07) across three annual waves. Path models showed that antisocial behavior was positively associated with relative increases in moral disengagement, a general dark personality factor, and Machiavellianism specifically, but not the other way around. These paths were only observed in boys and more pronounced during the first year of the study. Finally, antisocial behavior was partly indirectly associated to psychopathy across time via antisocial behavior and moral disengagement at a later time point. Together, these findings suggest that dark personality characteristics and moral disengagement development are more likely to be the result of changes in antisocial behavior than the other way around.

AB - Previous work has identified important correlational linkages between the dark triad of personality (Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism) and antisocial behavior in adolescence. However, little is known about the longitudinal associations between these personality characteristics and antisocial behavior, and the processes underlying these linkages. We hypothesized positive bidirectional associations between the dark triad and antisocial behavior, and that increases in moral disengagement would underlie these longitudinal associations. In the current study, we examined these hypotheses in 502 Dutch adolescents (51.8% boys, Mage = 13.57, SD = 1.07) across three annual waves. Path models showed that antisocial behavior was positively associated with relative increases in moral disengagement, a general dark personality factor, and Machiavellianism specifically, but not the other way around. These paths were only observed in boys and more pronounced during the first year of the study. Finally, antisocial behavior was partly indirectly associated to psychopathy across time via antisocial behavior and moral disengagement at a later time point. Together, these findings suggest that dark personality characteristics and moral disengagement development are more likely to be the result of changes in antisocial behavior than the other way around.

KW - AGGRESSION

KW - Adolescence

KW - Antisocial conduct

KW - CONCISE MEASURE

KW - DIRTY DOZEN

KW - Dark triad

KW - Development

KW - MACHIAVELLIANISM

KW - Moral cognitions

KW - NARCISSISM

KW - NEUTRALIZATION

KW - POPULARITY

KW - PSYCHOPATHIC PERSONALITY

KW - TRAITS

KW - YOUTH

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DO - 10.1007/s10802-019-00519-4

M3 - Article

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JO - Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

JF - Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

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