Semester

Spring

Date of Graduation

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

MS

College

Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

Committtee Chair

William Fremouw

Committee Co-Chair

Amy Fiske

Committee Member

Amy Gentzler

Abstract

Bullying is a serious phenomenon that includes behaviors conducted in a variety of mediums, including face-to-face (i.e. traditional bullying) and through technology (i.e. cyberbullying). This study examined differences between traditional bullies and cyberbullies in empathy deficits, motivation to engage in bullying behavior, and reasons for desistence of bullying behavior. The Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire was used to assess traditional bullying whereas the Internet Experience Questionnaire was used to assess cyberbullying. In a sample of 288 college students, there was no significant differences in total empathy, affective empathy, or cognitive empathy, between traditional bullies (N = 41), cyberbullies (N = 48), victims (N = 110), and controls (N = 89). Empathy deficits were assessed using the Basic Empathy Scale. A significant gender difference was found, with women demonstrating higher levels of empathy than men. When asked why he/she engaged in traditional and cyber bullying behaviors, 33% of cyberbullies denied the behaviors (i.e. "I would never do that"), whereas only 14% of traditional bullies responded with a statement of denial. Traditional bullies' most common motivation was peer pressure. In regards to desistence, cyberbullies again denied the behavior most frequently and traditional bullies reported that they gained self-awareness. These findings suggest that more research is needed to determine if empathy is an important construct to target in bullying interventions. Also, cyberbullies' denial of the bullying behavior suggests that more education about these behaviors is necessary.

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