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This is wrong, right? The role of moral components in anti- and prosocial behaviour in primary education

The role of moral components in anti- and prosocial behaviour in primary education
PhD ceremony:Ms D.J. Jansma
When:January 25, 2018
Supervisors:prof. dr. M.P.C. (Greetje) van der Werf, prof. T. Malti
Co-supervisor:dr. M.C.J.L. Opdenakker
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences

This dissertation focuses on moral functioning as a process underlying anti- and prosocial behaviour in primary education. Four different components of moral functioning were investigated: moral sensitivity, moral reasoning, moral motivation and moral character.

In the first study, we focused on the assessment of moral motivation. The instrument assessing moral motivation appeared to have a reliable one-factor structure. Moreover, we found indications that the instrument measures moral motivation.

The next two studies investigated moral functioning in relation to the development of prosocial behaviour and in relation to bullying, a special form of antisocial behaviour. The results showed that children who scored high on multiple moral components developed more prosocial behaviour than children who scored high on only one component. In addition, all moral components were related to the different roles in a bullying situation, i.e. bully, assistant, defender, outsider and victim. Moreover, bullying behaviour of children also appeared to be related to moral functioning of the whole class. Remarkably, children who scored high on agreeableness, an aspect of moral character, showed less bullying and assisting behaviour.

In the fourth study, the effects of a class intervention were investigated aimed at promoting agreeableness in children aged 6 to 13. In three different intervention conditions agreeableness increased and bullying behaviour and antisocial behaviour of the children declined. The positive effects of the intervention were most visible in the extended intervention condition.