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Determinants of bystander behaviour during school bullying: The role of moral disengagement, personality, and friendship


Determinants of bystander behaviour during school bullying: The role of moral disengagement, personality, and friendship

Doramajian, Caroline (2014) Determinants of bystander behaviour during school bullying: The role of moral disengagement, personality, and friendship. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Doramajian_PhD_F2014.pdf - Accepted Version


School bullying is a prevalent problem in Canadian schools and is associated with multiple negative outcomes. Students are often present during bullying incidents as natural observers, or bystanders, who may take on various participant roles that either aggravate or improve the plight of victims. The overarching objective of the current three-part study was to identify predictors of bystander behaviour during bullying situations in order to guide interventions aimed at recruiting children to defend their victimized peers. This goal was achieved by designing a three-wave longitudinal study that spanned 4 months and that sampled 130 Canadian early adolescents (68 boys, 62 girls; Mean age= 11.36 years) . Participants completed computerized questionnaires assessing self-reported moral disengagement, self- and peer-reported bullying-related behaviours, friendship using a sociometric nomination procedure, and personality operationalized as BIS-BAS sensitivity using a cognitive task. The data were analyzed using structural equation modeling in MPlus. In the first study, the over-time interplay between moral disengagement and both defending and passive bystanding behaviours was investigated, resulting in an overall pattern that was consistent with Bandura’s (1999) socio-cognitive theory of moral agency. Findings also revealed important sex differences and methodological issues, particularly with regard to the use of peer-report versus self-report tools. Study 2 examined concurrent associations among moral disengagement, personality, and multiple peer-reported bystander behaviours, including defending, passive bystanding, and bully reinforcing. Study 2 provided partial support for the postulates of both Bandura’s (1999) theory and Gray and McNaughton’s (2000) reinforcement sensitivity theory by highlighting the moderating effect of the BIS and the BAS on the association between moral disengagement and bystander behaviours. Study 3 moved beyond the individual in order to investigate the contextual nature of morality and defending behaviour. As expected, the association between moral disengagement and defending became more positive as a function of the victimization level of one’s best friend. Taken as a whole, findings provide support for the role of personality, morality and friendship in influencing bystander behaviours during bullying situations. Several directions for future research are proposed in order to better inform youth-led interventions against school bullying.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Doramajian, Caroline
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:11 March 2014
Thesis Supervisor(s):Bukowski, William M.
Keywords:bullying, bystanders, morality, personality, friendship, defending
ID Code:978321
Deposited On:26 Nov 2014 14:28
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:46
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