Empathy, Attitude Towards Bullying, Theory-of-Mind, and Non-physical Forms of Bully Perpetration and Victimization Among U.S. Middle School Students

Dorothy L. Espelage, Jun Sung Hong, Dong Ha Kim, Luana Nan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Children’s bullying involvement may arise from biases and deficiencies in social information processing, and it is important to consider cognitive and emotional aspects of bullying because social cognition is an important aspect of children’s social skills and their ability to get along with others. It is also important to understand how children see things from others’ point-of-view. Objective: The study examined whether empathic concern, perspective-taking, attitude towards bullying, and Theory-of-Mind were associated with non-physical form of bully perpetration and victimization in diverse sample of middle school students. Method: Participants included 310 students (grades 6–7) from a small, Midwestern town who completed a 45-min survey encompassing demographic questions and self-report measures of bullying, victimization, empathic concern, perspective-taking, and positive attitude towards bullying. Vignettes were also used to assess students’ Theory-of-Mind. Results: Non-physical bully perpetration was higher for African American students. We also found that students’ perspective-taking was negatively associated with non-physical bully perpetration, while positive attitude towards bullying was positively associated with non-physical bully perpetration. Conclusion: The findings suggest empathy and understanding of how youth see things from others’ point-of-view may be important factor in bullying.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-60
Number of pages16
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Keywords

  • Attitude towards bullying
  • Bully perpetration
  • Bully victimization
  • Early adolescents
  • Empathy
  • Theory-of-Mind

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