Predicting Cyberbullying from Anonymity

Anonymity has been considered one of the constructs that differentiate traditional bullying from cyberbullying; however, few published studies have actually tested how and why anonymity influences cyberbullying behavior longitudinally.  In a new study in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture, researchers examine whether aggressor-perceived anonymity predicts cyberbullying behavior and positive attitudes toward cyberbullying. Additionally, positive cyberbullying attitudes would mediate aggressor-perceived anonymity and cyberbullying behavior. The current study used a 4-wave longitudinal design over the course of one academic year on college-aged participants (N = 146 [at Wave 1]; average age = 19.21). Specifically, participants completed measures of anonymity, cyberbullying attitudes, and cyberbullying behavior 4 times approximately every 2 months. Results using path analysis showed (a) strong stability over time for the variables and (b) several mediated paths between Wave 1 anonymity and Waves 3 and 4 cyberbullying behaviors through Wave 2 cyberbullying attitudes. These results remained using both maximum likelihood estimation and bootstrapping techniques. Overall, the results showed that aggressor-perceived anonymity is an important risk factor for later cyberbullying behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

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