Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 1009–1021 | Cite as

Developing Morality, Competence, and Sociability in Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study of Gender Differences

  • Elisabetta CrocettiEmail author
  • Silvia Moscatelli
  • Goda Kaniušonytė
  • Wim Meeus
  • Rita Žukauskienė
  • Monica Rubini
Empirical Research


Morality, competence, and sociability have been conceptualized as fundamental dimensions of social judgment that individuals use to evaluate themselves and other people and groups. The way in which adolescents perceive themselves along these dimensions affects the quality of their relationships across multiple social contexts. Given the centrality of morality, competence, and sociability for adolescents’ social life, the purpose of this study was to understand how these dimensions develop over time with a focus on gender differences, since males and females can show distinct trajectories due to socialization and developmental processes. Participants were 916 (51.4% girls; Mage = 15.64 years) adolescents involved in a three-wave longitudinal study with annual assessments. The findings highlighted that females reported increasing levels of morality and competence, while males showed decreasing levels in all dimensions. Furthermore, females also showed greater consistency in the configuration of morality, competence, and sociability, and inter-individual differences appeared to be already well-settled in each dimension for both males and females. Overall, this study increases the developmental understanding of how core dimensions of social judgment change in the adolescent phase, highlighting gender differences and similarities.


Morality Competence Sociability Gender Development 


Authors’ Contributions

E.C., S.M., and M.R. conceived the current study; E.C. performed the statistical analyses. E.C., S.M., and M.R. wrote the manuscript; all authors (E.C., S.M., G.K., W.M., 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 paper.


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 and 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, Vilnius (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.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabetta Crocetti
    • 1
    Email author
  • Silvia Moscatelli
    • 1
  • Goda Kaniušonytė
    • 2
  • Wim Meeus
    • 3
  • Rita Žukauskienė
    • 2
  • Monica Rubini
    • 1
  1. 1.Alma Mater Studiorum Università di BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Mykolas Romeris UniversityVilniusLithuania
  3. 3.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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