Bullying and moral reasoning. The influence of life values and culture on italian teenagers’ self-assertion
MetadataShow full item record
In the last 15 years literature on bullying has emphasized the role of systemic processes in aggressive interactions, as well as the interplay of cognitive and emotional mechanisms leading to antisocial behaviors. Indeed, as adolescents interact with a varied social world, their development entails the formation of different but systematic types or domains of social reasoning. Social situations require a balancing and coordination of different social, individual and moral considerations related to features of the context. In this chapter, we suggest a broader view of moral reasoning trough the investigation of individual, culturally influenced, life values. In our non-representative sample of 801 Italian students the prevalence of school bullying was around 75% and the most common type was direct, either verbal (offending, teasing, threating) or physical (aggression). Participating roles collapsed into uninvolved (neutral) bystanders (56.8%), victims (37.1%) and bully | bully victims (6.1%). Our results evidenced how moral reasoning interact with other variables such as cognitive processes and distortions, moral emotions and cultural characteristics in bullying and evidenced, in addition to a general individualistic tendency, that some values specifically pertaining to adolescent bullies, like personal success, richness, and ambition. These values become more evident when supported by expectations of positive outcomes from the bullying behavior expressed by the peers' group (Brighi, et al., 2007). Bullies’ self-assertion tendencies appeared even stronger in female than in males as evidenced by little consideration for others' needs and desires, low respect of societal norms and little importance attributed to honesty. Only by taking into consideration the interplay between personal goals, life and cultural values a fuller theoretical understanding of peer aggression can be reached. Integrative models are thus needed to investigate both moral cognition and moral affect in children in relation to their participant roles in different form of bullying (Arsenio & Lemerise, 2004; Malti & Latzko, 2010).