Victims' Perceptions, Uncertainty, and Goal Understanding in Cyberbullying
Date & Time
Apr 06, 2017
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Kerr Hall 386
Title: Victims’ Perceptions, Uncertainty, and Goal Understanding in Cyberbullying
Abstract: An unfortunate part of our digital reality, cyberbullying is repetitive and aggressive behavior transmitted through mediated channels intentionally aimed at directing malice toward a victim with a goal to harm the target. A series of three experiments assessed the extent to which features of online exchanges influence individuals’ cognitive responses to being victimized during a bullying episode. Experiment 1 manipulated the identity uncertainty of a bully to demonstrate that the extent to which victims sought information about a bully, how negatively emotionally valenced their reaction was, and how interpersonally attractive they find the bully depend on how uncertain victims are about the bully’s goals. Experiment 2 extended the findings by examining victims’ particular inferences about a bully’s goals (either personal-attack or upward-mobility goals). Support emerged for the finding that the effects of victims’ uncertain cognitive state depend on the goals victims think a bully is pursuing. Specifically, victims find bullies more interpersonally attractive when they think a bully is trying to personally attack them or gain status, but only if the bully’s identity is unknown (not a friend). However, an objective to personally attack the victim was associated with negative emotion regardless of the bully’s identity. Finally, a third experiment manipulated the extent to which cyberbullying occurred in a private or public forum, demonstrating that the enhanced attractiveness finding only applied to private instances of cyberbullying.