Theories of morality suggest that negative emotions associated with antisocial behavior should diminish motivation for such behavior. Two reasons that have been proposed to explain why some individuals repeatedly harm others are that (a) they use mechanisms of moral disengagement to justify their actions, and (b) they may not empathize with and vicariously experience the negative emotions felt by their victims. With the aim of testing these proposals, the present study compared spinal cord injured disabled athletes and able-bodied athletes to determine the effect of reduced visceral afferent feedback caused by spinal cord injury on antisocial behavior, moral disengagement, empathy, and negative emotion (i.e., anger, anxiety, and dejection). Disabled athletes reported less frequent antisocial behavior and lower moral disengagement than able-bodied athletes. Group differences in antisocial behavior were mediated by differences in moral disengagement. The two groups did not differ in empathy or negative emotion. The findings of this study suggest that antisocial behavior may be regulated by mechanisms of moral disengagement.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Ethics & Behavior|
|Early online date||3 Jul 2014|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|
- antisocial behavior
- moral disengagement
- negative emotion