An Empirical Examination of Bystanders' Joining-In Behavior to Cyberbullying on Social Networking Sites: A Moral Disengagement Perspective

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Technology continues to evolve quickly and is dramatically changing socialization patterns among young people. Social networking sites (SNSs), while offering youngsters a primary online platform to interact and communicate with friends and family, also potentially expose them to undesirable phenomena such as cyberbullying, as reported in popular media and academic literature. The act of bullying is no longer viewed as a dyadic interaction between victim and perpetrator. Increasingly, evidence suggests that bystanders play a critical role in sustaining or reinforcing bullying.

    In our review of prior literature, we have found that the majority of the existing work is descriptive in nature with a focus on the impact of sociodemographic and psychological/personality variables on bystanders’ behavior in response to others’ cyberbullying acts. There are only a limited number of theory-guided studies explaining cyberbullying bystanders’ behavior. We have also noticed that cyberbullying has far received scant attention in the IS literature. As a form of bullying facilitated/enabled by ICT, cyberbullying and its impact are IS problems worthy of serious scholarly investigation. Particularly, there is a need to examine how the characteristics of the medium through which cyberbullying occurs influence bystanders’ responsive behavior.

    To address the gaps in the literature, we draw on theory of moral disengagement to explain cyberbullying bystanders’ behavior, and more specifically, why bystanders reinforce (or join in) bullying acts on SNSs. We examine how the key characteristics of SNSs affect cyberbullying bystanders’ joining-in responses. We also explore the moral disengagement mechanisms underlying the influence of the contextual conditions of SNSs on bystanders’ aggressive responses to the cyberbullying act. In the proposed project, we will test our research model with college students who are active SNS users. We expect the proposed research project to make important theoretical and practical contributions. On the theoretical side, this proposed project will enrich existing cyberbullying literature by addressing a previously unexplored issue, namely bystanders’ aggressive responses on SNSs. Furthermore, this project is a response to the call for more IS research on the emerging societal challenge associated with technology use. The result of this study will enrich our understanding of the irresponsible use of technologies. On the practical side, our findings will provide insights into intervention program (e.g., implementing new interface designs) aimed at reducing the negative impacts of cyberbullying bystanders’ joining-in behaviors.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1730/06/19

    UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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