Teens who intervene: identifying factors related to adolescent cyber-bystander intervention in cyberbullying

PhD Thesis

Mackay, Y. 2019. Teens who intervene: identifying factors related to adolescent cyber-bystander intervention in cyberbullying. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
AuthorsMackay, Y.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

Introduction: Cyberbullying experiences have been linked to mental health difficulties, highlighting the need to refine anti-cyberbullying interventions, particularly for at-risk groups, and understand what encourages bystanders to intervene. The current study compared adolescents’ prosocial cyber-bystander intentions in an intragroup (‘UK-born’ victim status) and intergroup (‘immigrant’ victim status) cyberbullying context. State empathy and state self-efficacy were examined as potential mediators, accounting for baseline trait levels of these two factors and gender.

Methods: British adolescents (N=129; 13.5-15 years old; 59.7% female; predominately White) from two comprehensive schools in the UK took part in a two (gender: female/male) by two (victim status: British/immigrant) between-subjects quasi-experimental study. Participants were randomly assigned to read a gender-matched hypothetical cyberbullying vignette with an adolescent cyber-victim who was either ‘U.K.-born’ or an ‘immigrant’. Self-report questionnaires captured participants’ prosocial bystander intentions, state and trait self-efficacy and empathy, alongside demographic information.

Results: Findings showed that victim status did not relate to self-efficacy or prosocial cyber-bystander intentions. Higher empathy was reported by females and, unexpectedly, within the ‘immigrant victim’ condition. An indirect relationship was found between victim status and prosocial cyber-bystander intentions, with state empathy as a statistical mediator. Trait empathy did not moderate the path between victim status and state empathy.

Conclusions: The present study supports promoting bystander state empathy in anti-cyberbullying programmes, but the importance of intergroup processes is unclear. To reduce cyberbullying impact, future research should explore cyber-bystander behaviour towards at-risk groups inter-sectionally, controlling for additional intergroup variables which potentially caused a suppressor effect in the results.

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Publication process dates
Deposited19 Sep 2019
AcceptedJun 2019
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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