Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 316–326 | Cite as

Moral Disengagement as Mediator and Moderator of the Relation Between Empathy and Aggression Among Chinese Male Juvenile Delinquents

  • Xingchao Wang
  • Li Lei
  • Jiping Yang
  • Ling Gao
  • Fengqing Zhao
Original Article


The link between empathy and aggression is well documented; yet, studies examining potential mechanisms that explain this association are limited. In the present study, we tested the relation between empathy and aggression and examined both the mediating and moderating effects of moral disengagement on this relation among Chinese male juvenile delinquents. Three hundred and fifty-seven male juvenile delinquents from one Chinese juvenile correctional facility completed the interpersonal reactivity index, the moral disengagement scale and the aggression questionnaire. The results indicated that moral disengagement partially mediated the influence of empathy on aggression. Moreover, moral disengagement moderated the relation between empathy and aggression. Specifically, there was a significant negative relation between empathy and aggression at low levels of moral disengagement. However, at high levels of moral disengagement, the relation between empathy and aggression was non-significant. The significance and limitations of the results are discussed.


Empathy Moral disengagement Aggression Chinese male juvenile delinquents 



This study was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, and the Research Funds of Renmin University of China (Title: The Relation between Moral Disengagement and Aggression).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xingchao Wang
    • 1
  • Li Lei
    • 1
  • Jiping Yang
    • 2
  • Ling Gao
    • 2
  • Fengqing Zhao
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and the Center of Internet + Social PsychologyRenmin University of ChinaBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Education ScienceShanxi UniversityTaiyuanChina

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