Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 8, pp 1743–1754 | Cite as

Adolescents’ Self-Perception of Morality, Competence, and Sociability and their Interplay with Quality of Family, Friend, and School Relationships: A Three-Wave Longitudinal Study

  • Elisabetta CrocettiEmail author
  • Silvia Moscatelli
  • Goda Kaniušonytė
  • Susan Branje
  • Rita Žukauskienė
  • Monica Rubini
Empirical Research


Morality, competence, and sociability have been conceptualized as fundamental dimensions on which individuals ground their evaluation of themselves and of other people and groups. In this study, we examined the interplay between self-perceived morality, competence, and sociability and relationship quality within the core social contexts with which adolescents have extensive daily interactions (family, friends, and school). Participants were 916 (51.4% girls; Mage=15.64 years) adolescents involved in a three-wave longitudinal study with annual assessments. The results of cross-lagged analyses indicated that (a) self-perceived morality was more important than self-perceived competence and sociability in strengthening family, friend, and school relationships; and (b) high-quality friendships led to increasing levels of self-perceived morality over time. Overall, this evidence advances our theoretical understanding of the primacy of morality from a self-perspective approach and highlights the developmental importance of friends.


Morality Competence Sociability Family Friends School 



Authors’ Contributions

E.C., S.M., and M.R. conceived of the current study; E.C. performed the statistical analyses and wrote the manuscript; all authors (E.C., S.M., G.K., S.B., R.Z., M.R.) participated in the interpretation of the results and in the drafting of the article; R.Z. is the principal investigator of the POSIDEV project and is responsible for the data collection. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


Data of the POSIDEV study were used for this study. POSIDEV was funded by the European Social Fund under the Global Grant measure, VP1-3.1-SMM-07-02-008 assigned to Rita Žukauskienė. Silvia Moscatelli and Monica Rubini received support for working on this article by a grant from the Italian Ministry of Research and Education, University and Research FIRB2012 (Protocollo RBFR128CR6_004) assigned to Silvia Moscatelli.

Data Sharing Declaration

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Ethics Committee of the Mykolas Romeris University (Lithuania) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants (and from their parents, if minors) included in the study.

Supplementary material

10964_2018_864_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
Supplementary Material


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alma Mater Studiorum University of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Mykolas Romeris UniversityVilniusLithuania
  3. 3.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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