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Bystanders in bullying situations: differences between participant roles and their reactions to manipulation

Hoffman, C. (2012) Bystanders in bullying situations: differences between participant roles and their reactions to manipulation.

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Abstract:Bullying is one of the most important problems that schools are facing today, as it has short-term and long-term effects on all involved parties (bullies, victims and bystanders). Research has found that bystanders (witnesses in bullying situations) can mostly solve bullying problems, but actually intervene in less than 30% of all cases. The reasons for not intervening can be various. Some bystanders do not even want to intervene in a bullying situation, because they actually sympathise with the bullies. One differentiates four groups of bystanders: assistants, reinforcers, outsiders and defenders. Assistants and reinforcers generally have a pro-bully attitude, while outsiders and defenders mostly hold a pro-victim attitude. Defenders are the ones actually protecting the victim and confronting the bully, while outsiders stay completely out of bullying situations. The aim of this study was to investigate the differences between these groups. Therefore self-efficacy, self-esteem, empathy and intended coping style in future bullying situations were measured and compared between the four groups. Besides, the current study used a short film to manipulate empathy in one half of the participants. It was hypothesized that an increase in empathy would promote the use of problem-oriented coping. The results show that outsiders score lower on self-efficacy than defenders, indicating that outsiders choose not to intervene in bullying situations, simply because they do not know how. Apart from that, pro-bullies and pro-victims differ in empathy. Pro-victims score significantly higher on empathy than pro-bullies. No differences in self-esteem and coping style were found. The manipulation did not increase empathy and had no significant influences on intended coping behaviour in future bullying situations. One limitation of this study is the generalizability. More research on that topic is needed to gain more insights in the process of bullying and bystander intervention.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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