Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Advisor/Committee Chair

Stephanie Wemm

Committee Member

Edelgard Wulfert


Just as in traditional bullying, bystanders play a pivotal role in cyberbullying as well. The current study sought to elucidate characteristics that distinguish individuals who act as passive bystanders from those who intervene on a victim’s behalf who is cyberbullied (“active bystanders”). Of particular interest was to examine whether empathy, moral beliefs and emotion regulation predict bystanding. Social self-efficacy, i.e., the belief in one’s ability to express one’s opinion and handle interpersonal conflict, was also examined. A sample of 400 college students completed a set of self-report instruments assessing these constructs and cyberbullying. Additionally, participants were asked how they would respond (e.g., “do nothing”, “respond to the bully directly within the thread”) to three interspersed lab-generated scenarios of cyberbullying. Using latent path modeling, I investigated how empathy, moral disengagement, and emotion regulation interrelate to predict bystanding in response to cyberbullying. The results indicated a direct relationship between active bystanders’ empathic concern and their perceived social self-efficacy to confront a bully (“active bystanding”). The findings regarding passive bystanders’ non-intervention were more complicated. Less empathy was related to greater moral disengagement, which in turn was associated with less involvement in the bullying situation. Furthermore, social self-efficacy mediated the relationship between empathy and emotion regulation with passive bystanding. This study’s implications for reducing or preventing cyberbullying are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons