Social Information Processing Links to Cyber-bullying in Adolescence: A Developmental Perspective




Bak, Michal

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The internet has become an important social context in adolescence, and communicating online with friends has become a natural part of everyday life. The present cross-sectional study examined the effects of social cues and popularity on developing adolescent social cognitions in online settings using a sample of 90, 11- to 14-year-old students from British Columbia, Canada. Participants completed self-report cyber-bullying, cyber-victimization, and cyber-aggression motivation measures. Hostile intent attributions were obtained using an instrument containing 8 hypothetical vignettes, where potentially harmful messages were sent to the protagonist, but the sender’s intentions were ambiguous. The results show an increasing cyber-bullying and cyber-victimization trend from early- to mid- adolescence. There was some evidence to suggest that individuals in mid-adolescence were more sensitive to online social cues and popularity. Individuals in mid-adolescence were more likely to engage in cyber-aggressive behavior to obtain a material or social reward. Despite having a small sample size, this study provides a good foundation for further research examining developmental processes that underlie cyberbullying behavior.



cyber-bullying, cyber-victimization, adolescence, social information processing, dual process model