Methodology Of Cyberbullying Studies Psychology Essay

According to Dooley, Pyzalski, & Cross (2009, p.182), to date, many authors face difficulties in defining and comparing cyberbullying because of the use of different methods. (No Flow from reason of different method to definition) Cyberbullying has been from a general perspective defined as bullying through an electronic means. Drawing from Smith et al. (2008, p.376), cyberbullying refers to an aggressive, deliberate act done by a person or a group of people, using electronic contact means, repeatedly for a certain period against a person who is not able to easily defend herself or himself. This definition emphasizes on the act being aggressive, deliberate, and repetitive as well as having the presence of power imbalance.

Belsey (2004) further defines cyberbullying as using technologies of information and communication to support intentional, frequent, and hostile conduct by a person or a group, with the aim of harming other people. From Belsey’s definition, power imbalance is missing, which implies that power does not necessarily form an essential component of cyberbullying. On the other hand, Wolak, Mitchell, & Finkelhor (2007, p.52) argue that, an accurate definition should view repeated actions of online hostility as online harassment (How is this link to the previous point of Belsey’s definition?). In addition, since the victim can terminate negative online relations easily, he or she possesses a certain level of power, which they were not capable of having if the harassment took place within the schoolyard where they cannot escape easily. On the contrary, there are cases of online harassment, which the victim cannot terminate easily such as difficulties involved in getting rid of information from the internet (From where? What does this show?).

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The identification of the main elements of cyberbullying is necessary for a uniform progress in cyberbullying studies. According to Vandebosch & van Cleemput (2008, p.500), a research was done through focus groups on 10 to 19 year olds in Belgium regarding their experiences on cyberbullying and their use of information and communication technology. The findings of the research showed that, cyberbullying actions are consistent with the definitions such that they are deliberate, repetitive, and typified by an imbalance of power (Mention Results). These features characterize traditional face-to-face bullying. The research also proposed that, in cyberbullying, behavior is more important as compared to the medium used (What medium? What does it show?). Kowalski & Limber (2007, p.24) further define cyberbullying as, simply the electronic type of face-to-face bullying instead of a distinct phenomenon. Viewing cyberbullying as simply a form of face-to-face bullying can overlook the difficulties of such behaviors.

(Mention overall non-consensus with definitions)

Differences between Traditional Bullying and Cyberbullying

According to Zacchilli & Valerio (2011, p.11), traditional bullying involves numerous key components. Bullying is aggressive, deliberate, includes power imbalance and is also repetitive. Aggression refers to any conduct aimed at harming another person. Bullying involves deliberate harm exerted on another person and it is, therefore, not playful. Drawing from Coloroso (2008), traditional bullying takes three main forms including verbal, relational, and physical. Verbal bullying is the most widespread form and involves the use of words to harm other people. Physical bullying is visible and include behaviors like kicking, hitting, biting and slapping. Relational bullying is widespread amid girls as compared to boys. It may involve ignoring, exclusion and spreading rumors. Further, cyberbullying appears to have a number of features of both relational and verbal bullying.

Cyberbullying is a new research area (When was it formerly studied?), and it is thus vital to have an apparent definition regarding what cyberbullying entails. Hinduja & Patchin (2008, p.152) suggest that, cyberbullying is willful and can cause continual harm to another person through the means of electronic content. This definition focuses on the notion that, cyberbullying entails an intention, and done for a certain period. Smith et al. (2008, p.376) suggested an identical definition where they define cyberbullying as an intentional, aggressive and repeated act by a person or a group using electronic contact means against somebody who cannot guard herself or himself. This definition also emphasizes the idea that cyberbullying is a planned, aggressive behavior occurring several times.

Kolwalski, Limber, & Agatston (2008) compared and contrasted traditional bullying with cyberbullying based on definitions. The two kinds of bullying entail aggression, repetition, and an inequality of power. In terms of differences, cyberbullying is more appealing as compared to traditional bullying due to anonymity. For instance, a person can be a victim of bullying for a long time without identifying the bully. Therefore, a bully may consider cyberbullying more appealing since it is very hard to track the origin of the bullying. Moreover, punitive fears and disinhibition differentiate traditional bullying from cyberbullying. When teens or children become victims of cyberbullying, they may not tell an adult about it for fear of being deprived the use of cell phones or computers. Disinhibition happens when people do or say things that they cannot do if the victims could identify them. Unlike cyberbullying, victims of traditional bullying mostly identify their bullies (Olweus, 1993). (What does this show?)

Debates and Arguments Regarding the Definitions

Most arguments and debates among authors on the definitions of traditional bullying and cyberbullying relate to repetition and power imbalance. Even though majority of authors generally approve including repetition when defining bullying, debate regarding its importance and nature still continues. Tattum (1989, p.17) claimed that, continuing feelings of tension regarding an occurrence may be deemed repetitive even though it occurred just once. Repetition, especially in cyberbullying, is difficult to operationalize, since difference may exist between the perceptions of victim and the perpetrator on the number of incidences and the likely consequences. For instance, Slonje & Smith (2008) maintain that, though repetition is apparent when the perpetrator sends several e-mails or text messages, it is not very apparent when the perpetrator creates one derogatory website or an online message, which several individuals can access (Shows Whats?).

Regarding power imbalance, an example by Aalsma & Brown (2008, p.101) of a second grade boy kicking a sixth grader every day in the bus suggests that, no bullying occurred since the second grader is smaller and less powerful physically compared to the sixth grader. From the example, assessing power imbalance is complex since it is hard to evaluate, particularly in children. However, Rigby (2007, p.19) argues that, wherever power imbalance exists, regardless of its source, the status of a person may be reduced.

(Overall mini summary)

Challenges of Self-Report

Self-Report Studies on Traditional Bullying and Cyberbullying (I don’t want this portion, instead I want more emphasis on the challenges of self report – problems of survey questions)

According to Arsenio & Lemerise (2004, p.989), many studies have repeatedly claimed that, bullies can have deficits concerning their morality (Very random; out of the blue). Recent integrative developmental moral hypothesis’ models have stressed the need for investigating both moral affect and moral cognition in comprehending individual variations in behaviors like bullying since there is an empirical and conceptual overlap between traditional bullying and cyberbullying. Bullying has a positive association with self-reported ethical disengagement in both adolescents as well as in children. A research by Pornari & Wood (2010, p.86) indicated that, ethical disengagement is not related to traditional aggression, but to cyber aggression among peers. Moreover, it showed that adolescents and children who had frequent involvement in bullying became more ethically disengaged and had fewer ethical responsible justifications. Bullies justified their moral misbehavior of a supposed bully primarily from a selfish viewpoint, and their thoughts focused on receiving individual gain from their negative behavior (Menesini & Camodeca, 2008, p.187).

Ybarra & Mitchell (2004) examined online harassment using 1,501 regular users of the internet aged between 10 and 17 years in the United States. In the study, online harassment referred to a deliberate and overt action of aggression to another individual who is online. The results showed that, 15% of all the participants were out of which 51% of them were also victims of traditional bullying, and 20% were cyberbullying victims (the remainder 29% ?). The results propose a high relation between traditional victimization and online harassment (Indicates what ??). (No flow b/w points) In addition, Raskauskas & Stoltz (2007) investigated 84 American students between the age of 14 and 18. They analyzed the links between traditional bullying, electronic bullying, traditional victimization, and electronic victimization. They particularly examined whether being a victim of traditional bullying or a traditional perpetrator predicts retaining the same position in electronic bullying. From the study, nearly all traditional bullies were also cyberbullies, and almost all traditional victims were cybervictims (Shows What?).

Gradinger, Strohmeier, & Spiel (2009, p.211) carried out a study to examine joint bully and victim conduct of students on 761 ninth grade students of 10 distinct schools in Vienna, Austria. From the study, cyberbullying, as well as cyber victimization, occurred rather infrequently than traditional forms. On the contrary, the incidence rates of students participating in cyberbullying and cyber victimization, which were 5% and 7% respectively, were lower than in former studies whose range was 11 to 49% and 10 to 22% for cyber victimization and cyberbullying, respectively. Such differences are due to a number of country-specific features that researchers cannot identify without cross-national studies. Moreover, the study found that, barely any student is exclusively a cybervictim. Rather, majority of cybervictims were also traditional victims. This implies the overlapping nature of cyber and traditional forms of victimization.

Problems of Survey Questions

Drawing from Ybarra & Mitchell (2004a, p.1308), majority of self-report studies on traditional bullying and cyberbullying have methodological weaknesses, which include a theoretical approaches, weak evaluation instruments with a single-item questions, small sample sizes and absence of psychometric assessment of the instruments used (Explain?). Questionnaires are the common methods that researchers use to gather information on bullying during self-report studies. This method is effective in collecting adequate data from respondents due to its anonymity feature. On the contrary, most survey questions that researchers of bullying use have a problem of using a single item to define and investigate multiple bullying constructs. Smith & Sharp (1994, p.13), for instance, a survey question for bullying can read, “How often have you participated in bullying another student(s) in school in the past four months?” (Implies that they are bullies as well)

According to Nunnally & Bernstein (1994, p.27), the use of single-item questions to assess constant bullying constructs is improper because; single items only recognize moderate to big distinctions and are not able to distinguish fine levels of a trait. Spector (1992, p.44) further asserts that, single items are undependable, and that, they lack the ability and scope to reveal detail. Cyberbullying self-report studies (Which ones?) have inherited the remarkable trend of research on traditional bullying to categorize students as victims and bullies. Such a system uses the single-item questions and an intrinsic model (By who? What model?) whereby, being a victim or a bully were mutually exclusive behavioral patterns. This has led to generalized rather than specific conclusions on bullying research (Parada, Marsh, & Craven, 2005).

Debates and Arguments among Authors

Rigby & Slee (1999, p.121) note that, many studies propose the presence of three kinds of victimization and bullying including physical, social and verbal. However, recent popular instruments use a one-item survey questions to assess bullying. For example, “How often have you been bullied in school this year?” single-item questions have a tendency of being frequency estimates like frequently, often, once a month or never, and yield scores which have a high statistical variance. Peterson & Rigby (1999, p.483) however argue that, as research on bullying advances, more researchers are seeing the significance of assessing the three forms of bullying as well as victimization. Researchers have also been adding instruments as indicative of these forms. In the research, Peterson and Rigby assessed five behavioral aspects namely hurtful names, threatened, kicked or hit, unpleasantly teased, and isolated, to measure various bullying types. On the contrary, no self-report study had before 2004, acknowledged the exact 3-factor framework adequately (Marsh et al. 2004). (How is this paragraph relevant to cyberbullying?)

According to Ahmed & Braithwaite (2004, p.38), the vastness of research on bullying consists of quantitative and continuous variables using self-report, teacher-report and peer-report measures of data. Researchers most frequently assess such data by dichotomization to generate results. Nevertheless, MacCallum et al. (2002, p.20) have spotted the fallacies of dichotomizing variables. According to them, dichotomization of quantitative and continuous variables results in loss of statistical significance and effective size, deformation of effects and the likelihood of researchers of overlooking non-linear relations. Due to these intrinsic methodological shortcomings of dichotomization, MacCallum et al. (2002, p.22), wind up that, these techniques ought to not be used unless they are vigorously justified. This is because when researchers dichotomize data for analyzing victimization and bullying, they unavoidably categorize children. Examples of such categorization include victims, bullies and those who are not affected. (Link to cyberbullying)

Theories of Cyberbullying

Theories Associated With Traditional Bullying

Agnew’s general strain theory (GST) is one of the theories that have associations with traditional bullying. According to this theory, there are three kinds of strain including failure to attain positively valued ambitions, eradication of positively esteemed stimuli, and production of negatively treasured stimuli. GST primarily revolves around the notion that, strain comes from unconstructive relationships with other people. For instance, a bully is producing negatively treasured stimuli, whether emotional or physical abuse, to her or his victim. The sources of strain have indirect links with delinquency and other behavioral problems. This is because; strain generates negative effects such as anger or frustration. (No links b/w points) In addition, theory of planned behavior (? By who?) has relations with traditional bullying. The theory suggests that, attitudes towards conduct come from people’s behavioral beliefs. According to Bosworth, Espelage, & Simon (1999, p.344), minors deem aggressive conduct as validated when a person deserves it, have a likelihood of behaving aggressively. (How well does the theory explain results? Or results explain the theory?)

Lack of Theories in Research of Cyberbullying to Explain the Phenomenon

Hoffman & Miller (1998, p.83) maintain that, a bigger percentage of the independent experimental studies that authors have done to investigate cyberbullying, none has sufficiently capitalized on current advances in the research of traditional bullying. Li (2007, p.4) adds that, more importantly, very little is known regarding the temperament of cyberbullying since there is no theory that theorizes its structure and thus, researchers have not developed psychometrically logical evaluation tools for measuring the construct of cyberbullying. In other words, Solberg & Olweus (2003, p.242) argue that, there has been a limited use of theories by researchers to explain the phenomenon of cyberbullying. The studies that have used theories to explain cyberbullying have only touched on traditional bullying theories without even validating their application to cyberbullying.

Theory of Mimetic Scapegoating Theory and Cyberbullying

According to Norman & Connolly (2011, p.287), Rene Girard bases his Mimetic Theory on the belief that, humans are mimetic beings. This implies that, people imitate what they see in other people. Increased imitation leads to increased likeness among individuals, and thus they compete for similar desires and end up becoming rivals. The boundaries amid individuals that maintain order start to crumble. Increased rivalry results in increased violence, while the distorted boundaries threaten destabilizing social order. The traditional man viewed a scapegoat as the only solution to the threat. Thus, by blaming a person or a group of persons for all the distress and hatred, people direct the violence of community towards the scapegoat. This theory applies to cyberbullying where an individual or a group of individual engages in cyberbullying activities out of peer pressure or imitation of what other people are doing. Scapegoating comes in where a group of people team up and direct their aggression towards their victims through incitation. Scapegoating is more common in social areas like in schools (Wilcox, 2009, p.9).

Pros and Cons of Using Theories for Cyberbullying

According to Marsh, Craven, & Hinkley (2003, p.193), the use of theories to explain cyberbullying has several pros. To start with, it helps readers have a better understanding of the origin of certain behaviors in the community from a theoretical perspective. For instance, the use of mimetic theory shows how violence among individuals in the society comes about, and explains what inspires a person or a group of people to engage in cyberbullying. In addition, the use of theories provides a strong foundation on which to base future research on cyberbullying. This leads to the expansion of knowledge about the field since researchers are able to carry out experiments to validate such theories, and also either expound on the existing theories or develop new theories depending on the findings of their experiments (Schafer & Graham, 2002, p.147). On the other hand, Griezel et al. (2008, p.2) argue that, the most significant issue that affects the cyberbullying field is that, regardless of many competing models and theories trying to explain bullying actions, there is a scarcity of authenticated theory and experimental research to summarize cyberbullying experience.

Debates and Arguments amongst Authors

Piquero & Sealock (2000, p.451) bases the general strain theory on the suggestion that, strain emerges from negative relationships. In addition, strain has a significant and generally positive relation with drug use and delinquency. Paternoster & Mazerolle (1994, p.236) support this claim through their National Youth Survey, which showed that, delinquency weakens bonds with conventional institutions, while strengthening ties with deviant people. Mazerolle et al. (2000, p.89) oppose the claim by maintaining that, only a number of strain’s measures have a significant association with anger, and noxious experiences on neighborhood conditions.

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