Moral disengagement moderates the predicted effect of trait self-control on self-reported aggression

Jian-Bin Li, Yan-Gang Nie, Ian Boardley, Qiao-Min Situ, Kai Dou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


An increasing number of studies reveal that self-control is an important preventative factor for aggression. However, the involvement of potential explanatory variables has received less research attention. Drawing upon
the feedback-loop model of self-control, the current research assumed that the preventing effect of trait selfcontrol on aggression may be moderated by moral disengagement. Self-reported measures of trait self-control, moral disengagement and aggression were administered to 946 Chinese university students. Results show that trait self-control had a negative effect on physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger and hostility, whereas moral disengagement positively predicted each of these constructs. Of particular importance was a significant interaction between trait self-control and moral disengagement for verbal aggression and hostility. Specifically, the preventing effect of trait self-control on these two types of aggression was more pronounced in individuals with low rather than high moral disengagement. In conclusion, low conditional endorsement of transgressive acts and having high trait self-control are both important individual-difference variables that explain reduced aggression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312–318
Number of pages7
JournalAsian Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date2 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • aggression, feedback-loop model of self-control, moral disengagement, trait self-control


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