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Predicting Cyberbullying: Research, Theory, and Intervention

Predicting Cyberbullying: Research, Theory, and Intervention

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Predicting Cyberbullying: Research, Theory, and Intervention

298 pagine
2 ore
Apr 6, 2019


Predicting Cyberbullying: Research, Theory, and Intervention delves into the theoretical advances that have been made to predict cyberbullying perpetration. It examines myriad psychological- and communication-based theories, discusses the relevant research to support (or not) each theory, and elucidates the strengths and limitations of these theories. Moreover, the book differentiates cyberbullying from traditional bullying to expand on a theory that takes such differences into account to predict perpetration. In addition, it adapts interventions to address these nuanced theoretical advancements and concludes with an examination of validated psychological theories that can inform interventions and reduce cyberbullying.

The book is an effective and concise reference for psychologists, school administrators, counselors and psychological researchers looking to understand theory and interventions for cyberbullies.

  • Focuses on the cyberbully perpetrator
  • Balances theory with interventional applications
  • Identifies key risk factors in those who cyberbully
  • Explores the scope of theoretically driven hypotheses specific to cyberbullying
Apr 6, 2019

Informazioni sull'autore

Christopher Barlett was trained as an aggression scholar and has been studying the risk factors of cyberbullying perpetration since 2010. He has published over sixteen book chapters and peer-reviewed papers on the topic. He has conducted correlational and longitudinal studies devoted to examining the variables that predict cyberbullying in youth, emerging adults, and older adults. Dr. Barlett is the creator of the Barlett and Gentile Cyberbullying Model (BGCM), the only published cyberbullying-specific psychological model that elucidates the psychological processes to predict cyberbullying perpetration.

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Anteprima del libro

Predicting Cyberbullying - Christopher Paul Barlett

Predicting Cyberbullying

Research, Theory, and Intervention

Christopher Paul Barlett, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychology, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA, United States

Table of Contents

Cover image

Title page




Scope of This Book

Part I: Cyberbullying in a Descriptive Context

Chapter 1. Cyberbullying in Context


Defining Cyberbullying

Prevalence Rates and Issues With Measurement

Overall Conclusion

Chapter 2. Cyberbullying, Traditional Bullying, and Aggression: A Complicated Relationship


Aggression and (Cyber)Bullying

Overall Conclusion

Chapter 3. Correlates of Cyberbullying


Media-Violence Exposure

Participant Age


Research Design Issues

Overall Conclusion

Part II: Cyberbullying in a Theoretical Context

Chapter 4. The Importance of Theory


Initial Cyberbullying Perpetration Research

Moving Toward Theoretical Extension

Overall Conclusion

Chapter 5. Social Psychology Theory Extensions


Theory of Planned Behavior/Reasoned Action

General Aggression Model

Overall Conclusion

Chapter 6. Sociological Theory Extensions


Social-Ecology Theory

General Strain Theory

Routine Activity Theory

Overall Conclusion

Chapter 7. Communication Theory Extensions


Online Disinhibition Effect

Uses and Gratifications

Overall Conclusion

Chapter 8. Unique Cyberbullying Theory


Barlett Gentile Cyberbullying Model

Social Media Cyberbullying Model

Overall Conclusion

Part III: Cyberbullying in an Intervention Context

Chapter 9. Combining Theory and Practice: Intervention Efforts to Reduce Antisocial Behaviors


Overall Conclusion

Chapter 10. What We Can Learn From Broad Bullying and Aggression Interventions


Aggression-Related Intervention Efforts

Traditional Bullying Interventions

Important Findings for Cyberbullying Interventions

Overall Conclusion

Chapter 11. Cyberbullying Intervention Efforts in Schools




Media Heroes


Other Interventions

Overall Conclusion

Chapter 12. Parents, Peers, Social Networking Companies, and Lawmakers’ Roles in Preventing Cyberbullying


Parental Influences

Peer Influences

Social Networking Influence

Lawmakers’ Influence

Overall Conclusion

Chapter 13. Final Remarks


Future Research: Primary Research

Future Research: Interventions

Overall Conclusion


Further Reading



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This book and the work leading to this book are dedicated to my wife and three children. I love you all.


Megan Meier, Ryan Halligan, Brandy Vella, Ciara Pugsley, Erin Gallagher, Tyler Clementi, and Joshua Unsworth are teens who took their own lives after alleged cyberbullying incidents. It is unlikely that the cyber-victimization and the subsequent negative affect they experienced were the only causal factors that led to these suicides; however, the specific cyberbullying incidences acted as a catalyst to increase the likelihood of their suicides. There are countless others who have taken their own life after being cyber-victimized; however, an exhaustive list would pale in comparison to the sheer number of youth who are cyber-victimized and have not committed suicide. Youth all over the world are affected by the harm that others inflict on them online, and scholars are only just beginning to understand the ways that cyberbullying can be prevented.

Addressing the cyberbullying problem is imperative. Several avenues exist for reducing the negative psychological impacts—including suicide—of being cyber-victimized. The first is to teach victimized youth the psychological tools necessary to cope with, or be resilient to, online harm. There is a great wealth of high-quality research that has examined such relations. For instance, Online Pestoppenstoppen (Jacobs, Vollink, DeHue, & Lechner, 2014) is an online intervention in which users are taught: (1) emotion regulation strategies after a provocation; (2) how to cope with a cyber-attack; and (3) replacing irrational negative thoughts after being cyber-victimized. Moreover, understanding the negative psychological and behavioral consequences of being cyber-victimized can aid clinicians in designing treatments to reduce such consequences. Indeed, examining such negative outcomes was the focus of much early empirical work in this domain. This approach, however, is reactive, which means that it is designed to teach victimized youth skills to be resilient to cyber-victimization after it has occurred.

A second, less studied, and yet proactive, approach is to examine the variables that predict cyberbullying perpetration in an effort to understand why cyberbullying occurs. This approach is the focus of Predicting Cyberbullying. I believe that theoretically understanding the governing psychological processes when an individual will harm another online juxtaposed with knowing what variables predict perpetration is needed to inform intervention efforts to help reduce cyberbullying. Scholars have only recently begun to delve into this research and such burgeoning research trends are encouraging. The more the scientific community attends to and studies cyberbullying empirically, the better informed the broader community will be on this topic. Yet, despite recent research focused on cyberbullying perpetration (rather than cyber-victimization) there is still a general lack of studies that have applied theory to the study of cyberbullying perpetration.

Theory is a critical part of the scientific process that, according to psychologists, elucidates the causal mechanisms involved in predicting behavior. A high-quality theory should parsimoniously explain why behaviors are likely to be enacted and the conditions under which such behaviors are likely. To date, much of the cyberbullying perpetration literature is void of theory. Although atheoretical data are important for showing simple relationships or describing the context of a societal issue, the lack of theory application or creation in this field is troubling.

Scope of This Book

Rather than focusing on the cyber-victim, this book focuses on theoretically elucidating the psychological processes that predict cyberbullying perpetration. If reliable, theoretically driven results can uncover the reasons why cyberbullying perpetration occurs, then interventions can be tailored or created to focus on those processes which should, hopefully, reduce cyberbullying perpetration (e.g., Barlett, 2016, 2017). This does not preclude that focusing on the cyber-victim, as so much research has done, is worthless. I find much merit in the research that attempts to provide victims of online attacks the skills necessary to prevent the negative consequences of cyberbullying. Perhaps the best approach is to attempt to address cyberbullying issues using both approaches; however, I will argue in this book that a proactive approach of understanding the theoretical underpinnings of cyberbullying perpetration can hopefully reduce cyberbullying through refined, research-driven, intervention efforts. Before the field shifts this way, well-established theory must be applied, created, or altered to account for cyberbullying perpetration. Unfortunately, scientific research on cyberbullying perpetration using theory is largely missing.

This book provides a much-needed theory guide by presenting a single source that describes the various theoretical points of view pertaining to cyberbullying perpetration. I have divided this book into three parts. Part 1 consists of Chapters 1–3 that aims to show how early research findings juxtaposed with broad bullying and aggression theory helped to build current theoretical models of cyberbullying perpetration with varying degrees of success. Part 2 (Chapters 4–8) delves into the specific postulates of several theories that describe cyberbullying perpetration. Here, I separate the existing theories that have been applied, or created, to expand our knowledge of cyberbullying perpetration. Each chapter discusses the theories from varying disciplines (e.g., social psychology, communication, and sociology). Such partitioning is not exact. Indeed, many sociological theories, for example, have been used by other scholars in other disciplines. Thus such distinctions and classifications are, and should be interpreted as, only for ease of presentation. Chapter 4, The Importance of Theory, starts with the importance of theory in the scientific method and expands on how cyberbullying researchers should use theory before delving into the theoretical contributions from social psychology (Chapter 5: Social Psychology Theory Extensions), sociology (Chapter 6: Sociological Theory Extensions), and communication and media studies (Chapter 7: Communication Theory Extensions), and concludes with a discussion of a unique cyberbullying theory (Chapter 8: Unique Cyberbullying Theory). Overall, Part 2 represents the primary thesis of this book: Theory needs to be applied to the study of cyberbullying. It is my hope that this book will serve as a reference for scholars, school administrators, and others to understand the importance of theory while providing a list and description of currently available theories used to predict cyberbullying perpetration. Finally, Part 3 (Chapters 9–13) concludes the book by demonstrating how a quality theory can help inform interventions that have successfully reduced cyberbullying perpetration. Chapter 9, Combining Theory and Practice: Intervention Efforts to Reduce Antisocial Behaviors, explores the statistical considerations (from a procedural, analytical, and theoretical point of view) regarding cyberbullying intervention validation, and Chapter 10, What We Can Learn From Broad Bullying and Aggression Interventions, describes how cyberbullying interventions can benefit from existing traditional bullying and aggression interventions. Chapter 11, Cyberbullying Intervention Efforts in Schools, describes several well-validated interventions (and mentions others) with a focus on how theory can be used to guide the creation of cyberbullying interventions to yield a validated product or curriculum. Further avenues for cyberbullying prevention include parents, peers, social networking companies, and lawmakers, whose possible roles are described in Chapter 12, Parents, Peers, Social Networking Companies, and Lawmakers’ Roles in Preventing Cyberbullying. Finally, Chapter 13, Final Remarks, concludes the book.

I review many cyberbullying manuscripts for publication in various academic journals, book chapters, and books and am appalled by the number of studies submitted for publication that are mostly descriptive. As a field, we should be past the need for such atheoretical articles and instead be focused on process. Overall, I hope that this book energizes scholars to help shift research from atheoretical and mostly descriptive designs to study cyberbullying to a richer, theoretically driven literature that creates or utilizes theory to predict why cyberbullying occurs. Many suggestions for further research topics are highlighted throughout the book.

Part I

Cyberbullying in a Descriptive Context


Chapter 1 Cyberbullying in Context

Chapter 2 Cyberbullying, Traditional Bullying, and Aggression: A Complicated Relationship

Chapter 3 Correlates of Cyberbullying

Chapter 1

Cyberbullying in Context


Cyberbullying perpetration is a pervasive social behavior that can cause many negative psychological, behavioral, and health outcomes for cyberbulling victims. Research has shown that cyberbullying occurs all over the world, across the developmental life span, and for both males and females. Understanding the variables and processes that predict cyberbullying perpetration is important for interventions aimed at reducing online, antisocial behavior. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the reader to definitions of cyberbullying and discuss the prevalence rates of cyberbullying perpetration. Myriad theoretical and conceptual issues that confound the majority of definitions have serious implications for how cyberbullying perpetration is measured and its subsequent prevalence rates. These issues are discussed in this chapter.


Cyberbullying; prevalence rates; definitions; cyber-aggression; measurement

The Internet boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s sparked a worldwide technological revolution. The creation of the Internet juxtaposed with the affordability of personal computers (PCs) sparked a new era of information gathering and sharing. Fig. 1.1 shows a graph of the average consumer price index for all urban consumers for PCs and peripheral equipment annually¹ and the percentage of the world population that had access to, and used, the Internet from 1998 to 2016.² The results clearly show that the cost of a PC decreased dramatically while the number of worldwide Internet users increased over the same time frame. Statistical analysis yields a correlation of r=−0.79, P<.001, despite the inverted logarithmic function of the data on the cost of PCs.

Figure 1.1 The worldwide adjusted consumer price index for all urban consumers for personal computers and peripheral equipment and the percentage of the population that were Internet users from 1998 to 2016.

Although not explicitly captured in Fig. 1.1, the creation and marketing of mobile phones, laptops, and tablets that allow for Internet access has only exacerbated this effect. Statistics on Internet use further highlight the pervasiveness of this social phenomenon. Indeed, Perrin and Jiang (2018) reported that 77% of US adults go online daily and that 89% from the same population group are online daily if they own a mobile device with Internet connectivity. Recent data (from the

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