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Acta Psychologica Sinica    2013, Vol. 45 Issue (9) : 1015-1025     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.01015
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The Relationship between Externalizing Behavior Problem and Collective Moral Emotion and Responsibility: The Moderate Effects of Class Climate
LI Dan;ZONG Lijuan;LIU Junsheng
(Department of Psychology, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China)
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Abstract  Externalizing behavior problem is a set of behaviors that represent negative response to the social environment. Externalizing behavior problems are moderately stable, yet changeable. Researchers and professionals have considered how parenting styles, parent involvement, and children’s social skills and peer relationships are associated with externalizing problems, but little is known about the relations between children’s academic environment – class climate – and externalizing problems. According to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system theory, positive class climate may help reduce children’s behavior problems. Class is an important environment for students’ social and academic activities. Class climate influences not only students’ academic achievement, but also their social attitudes and functioning including behaviors, moral emotions, social responsibility, and their relations. The purpose of the study was to examine the moderating effect of class climate on the relations between externalizing behavior problem and collective moral emotion and collective responsibility. Participants included 755 students sampled from 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th grade of three schools in Shanghai. The students were asked to fill several questionnaires concerning the perceptions of class climate, collective moral emotions, and collective responsibility. In this study, class climate was a group-level variable, indexed by standardized total scores of the scale. Students’ externalizing behavior problems were rated, on a 5-point scale, by their head teacher, the scores were standardized within the class to allow for appropriate comparisons. The results first indicated that boys had higher scores than girls on the measure of externalizing behavior problems, but lower scores than girls on perceived classroom climate. No significant gender differences were found on either collective moral emotion or collective responsibility. Second, externalizing behavior problems were moderately stable. No significant grade differences were found. Students in 8th grade had the lowest scores on perceived class climate. Scores on collective moral emotion and collective responsibility decreased with age. Third, class climate moderated the relations between externalizing behavior problems and collective moral emotion and collective responsibility. Positive class climate weakened the negative relations between externalizing behavior problem and collective moral emotion and collective responsibility. The results indicate that positive class climate is a protective factor for children who have externalizing behavior problems. Developing a positive class climate helps children to experience collective moral emotion and display responsible behavior, which in turn may improve their social functioning in school.
Keywords externalizing behavior problem      class climate      collective moral emotion      collective responsibility     
Corresponding Authors: LIU Junsheng   
Issue Date: 25 September 2013
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LI Dan;ZONG Lijuan;LIU Junsheng. The Relationship between Externalizing Behavior Problem and Collective Moral Emotion and Responsibility: The Moderate Effects of Class Climate[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica,2013, 45(9): 1015-1025.
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http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.01015     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2013/V45/I9/1015
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