Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis




The present study examined how ingroup/outgroup identification and harm predict cognitive restructuring and the shifting of blame. Drawing on Moral Disengagement Theory (Bandura, 1999), which holds that individuals create a new version of reality that allows them to violate their moral beliefs, I hypothesized that implicating the ingroup, lower levels of perceived harm, and higher ingroup glorification would result in more moral disengagement. Integrating Moral Disengagement Theory with Moral Exclusion Theory (Opotow, 1990), I further hypothesized that moral exclusion—the removal of others from the moral community—would also be greater. 422 participants recruited over Prolific read a modified news article about civil unrest in Myanmar following a military coup d’état that either described protestors as being killed or arrested. Additionally, the article portrayed either the United States or Australia as a focal bystander refusing to send military or financial assistance. Participants completed questionnaires on moral disengagement, moral exclusion of the victim, and moral exclusion of the bystander. Moral disengagement and moral exclusion did not differ among participants based on harm or the identity of the focal bystander. However, moral disengagement and moral exclusion of the victims were higher among individuals who glorified the United States, whereas moral exclusion of the U.S. as a bystander was lower. These findings suggest that individual differences—such as ingroup glorification—may be more robust predictors of moral disengagement and moral exclusion than situational factors.

Keywords: moral disengagement, moral exclusion, ingroup favoritism, bystandership

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Helen C. Harton, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ix, 108 pages)



File Format