Factors influencing bystanders' behavioral reactions in cyberbullying situations

Jiyeon Song, Insoo Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiential, psychological, and situational factors influencing behavioral reactions of bystanders witnessing cyberbullying. It also investigated whether the ‘bystander effect’ is valid in cyberbullying situations. In addition, a moderation effect of the presence of other bystanders was examined between various influencing factors and bystander's defending tendency. A total of 1058 middle and high school students in metropolitan areas participated in the study, and the experiences of 331 students who have witnessed cyberbullying were analyzed. First, four types of bystanders were found: outsiders were the majority (n = 201, 60.7%), followed by defenders (n = 101, 30.5%), reinforcers (n = 18, 5.4%), and assistants (n = 11, 3.3%). Second, bystanders demonstrated more defending behaviors in the absence of other bystanders, thereby validating the ‘bystander effect’ in cyberbullying situations. Third, low moral disengagement, low anti-social conformity, high perceived control of the situation and bad relationship with bullies were identified as significant predictors of a bystander's defending tendency. Finally, the presence of other bystanders moderated the effect between moral disengagement and the bystander's defending tendency in relation to bullies. The implications of these results for the effective prevention and intervention of cyberbullying are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-282
Number of pages10
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Bystander
  • Bystander effect
  • Cyberbullying
  • Defender
  • Outsider


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