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Review five journal articles found in Topics 4-6 of this course.
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Provide an evaluation (750-1,000 words total) of at least five journal articles from Topics 4-6 of this course. Include the following for each article:

The article citation, which is not included in the total word count.Analysis Of Research PSY 830 Essay
A written summary of the key concept(s) of the articles. Consider the following questions: Why were the studies done? What were the populations studied? What did the researcher(s) conclude? How are the research questions or findings similar/different? What other information about these studies do you believe is unique or important to recall? Are there specific statements made by the authors that you wish to retain? How might these articles compare with others you read? What new ideas can come out of the articles you are evaluating?

Bullying is a unique but complex form of interpersonal aggression, which takes many forms, serves
different functions, and is manifested in different
patterns of relationships. Bullying is not simply a dyadic
problem between a bully and a victim, but is recognized as
a group phenomenon, occurring in a social context in
which various factors serve to promote, maintain, or suppress such behavior (e.g., Olweus, 2001; Rodkin &
Hodges, 2003; Salmivalli, 2001). Accordingly, researchers
have argued for the utility of a social-ecological framework
in understanding school bullying (Espelage, Rao, & de la
Rue, 2013; Espelage & Swearer, 2010; Hong & Garbarino,
2012; Swearer & Espelage, 2004; Swearer et al., 2012).
Social ecological theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) conceptualizes human development as a bidirectional interaction
between individuals and the multiple systems in which they
operate—home, neighborhood, school, community, and
society. Thus, bullying behavior is not just the result of
individual characteristics, but is influenced by multiple
relationships with peers, families, teachers, neighbors, and
interactions with societal influences (e.g., media, technology). Peer witnesses to bullying are also at risk for negative
outcomes (Rivers, Poteat, Noret, & Ashurst, 2009), even
after controlling for involvement as bullies or victim (Bonanno & Hymel, 2006).Analysis Of Research PSY 830 Essay
Complicating our understanding of the consequences
of bullying and victimization is recent research documenting the dynamic and fluid nature of children’s involvement
in bullying across roles and over time. Among youth who
are involved in bullying, Ryoo, Wang, and Swearer (2014)
found that frequent victims and frequent perpetrators were
the least stable subgroups, and that students assumed different roles in bullying across school years. Indeed, youth
can observe bullying (i.e., bystanders), experience bullying
(i.e., victims), and perpetrate bullying (i.e., bullies) across
different situations and/or over time. Across contexts, for
instance, a student may be victimized by classmates at
school but bully his or her siblings at home. Longitudinal
studies by Haltigan and Vaillancourt (2014) and Barker,
Arseneault, Brendgen, Fontaine, and Maughan (2008) explored the joint trajectories of involvement in bullying and
victimization over time among 9- to 12-year-old and 11- to
16-year-olds, respectively, with similar results. Most students (73% and 75%, respectively) showed low levels of
Editor’s note. This article is one of six in the “School Bullying and
Victimization” special issue of the American Psychologist (May–June
2015). Susan M. Swearer and Shelley Hymel provided the scholarly lead
for the special issue.
Authors’ note. Susan M. Swearer, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Shelley Hymel, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special
Education, University of British Columbia. Susan M. Swearer and Shelley
Hymel are Co-Directors of the Bullying Research Network (
The authors wish to acknowledge the support received for this work,
including support to the first author from the Andrew Gomez Dream
Foundation, the Woods Charitable Fund, and the College of Education
and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and support
to the second author from the Edith Lando Charitable Foundation, the
University of British Columbia Faculty of Education Infrastructure Grant,
and the Canadian Prevention Science Cluster, funded through the Social
Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Susan
M. Swearer, 40 Teachers College Hall, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, 68588-0345; or
Shelley Hymel, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia,
2125 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4. E-mail: or
344 May–June 2015 ● American Psychologist
© 2015 American Psychological Association 0003-066X/15/$12.00
Vol. 70, No. 4, 344–353
bullying and victimization over time (low/uninvolved students), and 11% (both studies) showed trajectories that
would identify them as bullies. Another 10% and 3% of
students, respectively, would be classified as victims and
2% (Barker et al. only) as bully-victims. However, 6% and
3% of students, respectively, showed a pattern of declining
victimization and increased bullying over time (victim to
bully subgroup), a trajectory that was more likely than one
in which bullies are increasingly victimized. Importantly,
these distinct patterns of involvement are associated with
different mental health outcomes.
Researchers have long demonstrated that being involved as both a perpetrator and victim seems to compound
the impact of bullying, with bully-victims experiencing
worse outcomes than either bullies or victims, being at
greater risk for anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, selfharm, suicidal ideation and suicidality, physical injury,
substance abuse, negative attitudes toward school, absenteeism, poor perceptions of school safety, aggression, and
delinquency (e.g., Berkowitz & Benbenishty, 2012; Copeland, Wolke, Angold, & Costello, 2013; Kumpulainen,
Räsänen, & Puura, 2001; Srabstein & Piazza, 2008). In
their trajectory analysis, Haltigan and Vaillancourt (2014)
further demonstrated that, relative to low-involvement students and after controlling for initial psychopathology,
stable victims showed elevated levels of depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and anxiety, whereas
stable bullies reported higher levels of anxiety, and those
who shifted from victimization to bullying reported more
anxiety, depression, and somatization. Such findings underscore the importance of considering a child’s history of
involvement in bullying over time, and to move beyond the
“dyadic bias” (Espelage & Swearer, 2003) and view bullying as a dynamic experience, influenced by the social
ecology. In this article, we summarize some of these complexities in support of a social-ecological perspective on
bullying, and then expand our lens to propose the application of a diathesis–stress model that can further our understanding of the dynamics of bullying among children and
youth.Analysis Of Research PSY 830 Essay
Correlates and Contributing Factors
in the Bullying/Victimization Dynamic
Individual Influences
In terms of individual factors, bullying perpetration has
been associated with callous-unemotional traits (Muñoz,
Qualter, & Padgett, 2011; Viding, Simmonds, Petrides, &
Frederickson, 2009), psychopathic tendencies (Fanti & Kimonis, 2012), endorsement of masculine traits (Gini &
Pozzoli, 2006; Navarro, Larrañaga, & Yubero, 2011), conduct problems (Cook, Williams, Guerra, Kim, & Sadek,
2010), antisocial personality traits (Ferguson, San Miguel,
& Hartley, 2009; Vaughn et al., 2010), susceptibility to
peer pressure (Monks & Smith, 2006; Pepler, Craig, &
O’Connell, 2010), anxiety (e.g., Craig, 1998; KaltialaHeino, Rimpelä, Rantanen, & Rimpelä, 2000), and depression (e.g., Ferguson et al., 2009). At least some students
who bully their peers have been found to be higher in social
intelligence (Björkqvist, Österman, & Kaukiainen, 2000;
Sutton, Smith, & Swettenham, 1999a,1999b) and social
status (Vaillancourt, Hymel, & McDougall, 2003), with
researchers distinguishing between socially integrated and
socially marginalized bullies (e.g., Farmer et al., 2010; see
Rodkin, Espelage, & Hanish, 2015).
Being bullied by peers (victimization) has been linked
with poor physical health (e.g., Gini & Pozzoli, 2013;
Knack, Jensen-Campbell, & Baum, 2011) and poor school
adjustment, including being unhappy, feeling unsafe, being
truant, performing poorly and, in some cases, dropping out
of school (e.g., Card, Isaacs, & Hodges, 2007; Graham,
Bellmore, & Juvonen, 2007; Juvonen, Nishina, & Graham,
2000; Konishi, Hymel, Zumbo, & Li, 2010; Slee & Rigby,
1993; Smith, Talamelli, Cowie, Naylor, & Chauhan, 2004).
Victimization has also been associated with a host of internalizing and externalizing difficulties (see Card et al.,
2007, and Espelage & Holt, 2001,for reviews), including
loneliness and withdrawal (e.g., Graham & Juvonen,
1998a; Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpelä, Marttunen, Rimpelä, &
Rantanen, 1999), anxiety and social avoidance (Craig,
1998; Espelage & Holt, 2001; Graham, & Juvonen, 1998b),
depression (e.g., Craig, 1998; Kaltiala-Heino et al., 1999),
and suicidal ideation (Bonanno & Hymel, 2010; KaltialaHeino et al., 1999), as well as hyperactivity (Kumpulainen
et al., 2001), delinquency, and aggression (e.g., Hanish &
Guerra, 2000). Victims are also less well liked (e.g.,
Spriggs, Iannotti, Nansel, & Haynie, 2007), less accepted,
and more rejected by peers (Cullerton-Sen & Crick, 2005;
Graham et al., 2007; Veenstra et al., 2007).
Unfortunately, the causal nature of these relationships
is unclear. Given the multidirectionality of the social-ecological model and the principles of equifinality and multifinality (Cicchetti & Rogosch, 1996), it is likely that conSusan M.
May–June 2015 ● American Psychologist 345
text influences the extent to which these individual factors
function as antecedents, contributing factors, or consequences of involvement in bullying. An aggressive youth
diagnosed with conduct disorder might bully others because of a predisposing trait related to the diagnosis of
conduct disorder. Alternatively, youth who are “rewarded”
for bullying behaviors (e.g., through enhanced status or
popularity, access to goods) may continue bullying, develop further aggressive behaviors, and eventually meet
criteria for a diagnosis of conduct disorder. Shy youth
might appear more vulnerable, making them appealing
targets of victimization. Alternatively, someone who is
bullied may develop a shy and withdrawn, perhaps anxious,
demeanor as a result of such treatment. Thus, our understanding of the psychology of bullying/victimization is
much like the “chicken or egg” conundrum.
Family Influences
A number of family characteristics have been linked to
bullying perpetration, including family members’ involvement in gangs, poor parental supervision, negative family
environment, parental conflict, domestic violence, low parental communication, lack of parent emotional support,
authoritarian parenting, inappropriate discipline, and parental abuse (Baldry, 2003; Baldry & Farrington, 1999;
Barboza et al., 2009; Bowes et al., 2009; Cook et al., 2010;
Espelage, Bosworth, & Simon, 2000; Espelage & Swearer,
2010; Ferguson et al., 2009; Pepler, Jiang, Craig, & Connolly, 2008). Although such findings are consistent with
arguments that aggressive modeling and poor parental supervision contribute to bullying, causal direction has not
been clearly established and the impact of families after
controlling for hereditary influences remains unclear, as
genetic factors have been shown to account for 61% of the
variation in bullying behavior (Ball et al., 2008). Family
influences on victimization have been more elusive, but
include links to abuse, neglect, and overprotective parenting (see Duncan, 2011).Analysis Of Research PSY 830 Essay
Peer Influences
Youth spend much of the day interacting with peers in
schools, neighborhoods, communities, and through social
media, and bullying behaviors almost always occur within
the peer context (Pepler et al., 2010). Bullying and victimization are more likely in classrooms characterized by peer
norms that support bullying (e.g., Craig & Pepler, 1997;
Salmivalli & Voeten, 2004), and by high peer conflict
(Pepler et al., 2010). Affiliation with aggressive peers is
also associated with greater bullying perpetration (Espelage, Holt, & Henkel, 2003; Ferguson et al., 2009), as is
peer victimization (Barboza et al., 2009), and negative
relationships with classmates (Bacchini, Esposito, & Affuso, 2009). Again, however, the correlational nature of
these studies makes causal interpretation difficult, and several of these associations may simply reflect homophily, the
tendency to affiliate with similar peers.
One of the most extensively researched peer influences on school bullying is that of bystanders. Observational studies have shown that, on average, two to four
peers are present in the vast majority (85% to 88%) of
bullying incidents (O’Connell, Pepler, & Craig, 1999;
Pepler et al., 2010). Bystanders, however, often respond in
ways that encourage rather than discourage bullying (Doll,
Song, & Siemers, 2004; Pellegrini & Long, 2004). For
example, Craig and Pepler (1997; and see O’Connell et al.,
1999) observed that peer bystanders actively joined in with
bullying 21% of the time, only intervened on behalf of
victims in 25% of incidents, and were most often observed
to passively watch (54%)—a response that may well be
interpreted as condoning such behavior. According to peer
perceptions (Salmivalli, Lagerspetz, Bjorkqvist, Osterman,
& Kaukiainen, 1996), about 20% of students are viewed as
encouraging bullying, and another 7% as actively supporting or participating in the bullying. Only 17% of students,
mostly girls, are identified by peers as defenders who
intervened on behalf of victims. Given these findings, many
focus on bystanders as a critical resource in antibullying
efforts (e.g., Hazler, 1996), with peer support emphasized
as a key component in school-based antibullying efforts
(e.g., Salmivalli, Kärnä, & Poskiparta, 2010). Unfortunately, with age, bystanders become increasingly passive in
their responses and less likely to advocate for victims
(Marsh et al., 2011; Trach, Hymel, Waterhouse, & Neale,
2010). Those who defend victims have greater empathy (at
least boys) and greater social self-efficacy (Gini, Albiero,
Benelli, & Altoè, 2007, 2008), are usually higher in social
status (popularity) and better liked (e.g., Caravita, DiBlasio, & Salmivalli, 2009; Salmivalli et al., 1996), not only
by the victims they defend but also by the broader peer
group (Sainio, Veenstra, Huitsing, & Salmivalli, 2011).
High social status may lend confidence to one’s capacity to
intervene and reduce concerns about retaliation. Bystanders
are also more likely to defend victims if they feel angry
Shelley Hymel
346 May–June 2015 ● American Psychologist
(Rocke Henderson & Hymel, 2011; Sokol, Bussey, &
Rapee, 2014), what Vitaglione and Barnett (2003) refer as
empathic anger in adults.Analysis Of Research PSY 830 Essay
School Influences
Bullying has been most studied in the school context, and
the positive or negative climate of the school impacts the
frequency of bullying and victimization (e.g., Gendron,
Williams, & Guerra, 2011; Marsh et al., 2012; Richard,
Schneider, & Mallet, 2011; Wang, Berry, & Swearer,
2013). Higher levels of bullying and victimization have
been linked to inappropriate teacher responses (e.g., Bauman & Del Rio, 2006), poor teacher–student relationships
(Bacchini et al., 2009; Doll et al., 2004; Richard et al.,
2011), lack of teacher support, and lack of engagement in
school activities (Barboza et al., 2009). Students are also
less likely to report bullying if they see their school climate
as negative (Unnever & Cornell, 2004). The relationship
between school climate and bullying/victimization may be
bidirectional, however, with poor school climate contributing to bullying and vice versa.
Community/Cultural Influences
Beyond families, peers, and schools, there is the influence
of communities and the larger society, with higher levels of
bullying linked to negative or unsafe neighborhoods (e.g.,
Chaux, Molano, & Podlesky, 2009; Espelage et al., 2000),
gang affiliation (e.g., White & Mason, 2012), and poverty
(Bradshaw, Sawyer, & O’Brennan, 2009). Research has
also linked bullying perpetration to exposure to violent TV
(Barboza et al., 2009) and video games (Ferguson et al.,
2009; Janssen, Boyce, & Pickett, 2012; Olson et al., 2009).
Generally, increased bullying and victimization are found
in communities in which violence is modeled and/or condoned, although, again, the causal nature of these relationships remains unclear.
As these findings suggest, bullying and victimization do
not occur in isolation. Rather, bullying stems from complex
interactions between individuals and the contexts in which
they function, both proximal (i.e., family, peers, school
climate) and distal (i.e., societal, cultural influences). Accordingly, multiple systems must be targeted in order for
bullying prevention and intervention programs to be effective (e.g., O’Donnell, Hawkins, & Abbott, 1995; Rodkin,
2004; Swearer & Espelage, 2004). Although demonstrations of causality remain an important task for future research, these findings begin to set out a road map that
guides prevention and intervention efforts, both in schools
and communities (see Bradshaw, 2015).Analysis Of Research PSY 830 Essay
Consequences of
Although it is widely understood that involvement in bullying causes problems for victims (see McDougall & Vaillancourt, 2015), children and youth who bully are also at
risk for many of the same problems. Studies addressing
issues of causality have found that bullying perpetration
often leads to anxiety and depression (Baldry, 2004), social
withdrawal and delinquent behavior (Bender & Lösel,
2011), poor academic achievement (Ma, Phelps, Lerner, &
Lerner, 2009), and adult diagnosis of antisocial personality
disorder (Copeland et al., 2013). Thus, bully perpetrators
experience adverse psychosocial consequences, a result
that does not garner much empathy, given the public’s
advocacy for suspension, expulsion, and incarceration for
aggressive behavior. To understand how involvement in
bullying/victimization can lead to such diverse outcomes,
we consider a diathesis–stress model, borrowed from developmental psychopathology, magnifying the social-ecological lens.

Understanding the Relationship Between
Psychopathology and Bullying/Victimization
Diathesis–stress models propose that psychopathology occurs as the result of the combination of individual cognitive
or biological vulnerabilities (i.e., diatheses) and certain
environmental stressors (Cicchetti & Toth, 1998; Lazarus,
1993). Further, these models posit that both negative life
events and one’s cognitions about those events contribute
to the development of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. In exploring the utility of a diathesis–stress
model in understanding school bullying, we consider involvement in bullying, as either a victim or perpetrator, as
a negative life event that, when mixed with certain cognitive, biological, and social vulnerabilities (i.e., diatheses),
leads to the development of internalizing and externalizing
psychopathology and impaired social relationships. Diathesis–stress models have received considerable empirical
support (e.g., Garber & Hilsman, 1992; Gibb & Alloy,
2006), and have contributed to our understanding of relational stressors and depressive symptoms (Chango, McElhaney, Allen, Schad, & Marston, 2012), peer exclusion
(Gazelle & Ladd, 2003), and compulsive Internet use (van
der Aa et al., 2009). We view bullying as a stressful life
event that places vulnerable youth at risk for a host of
negative outcomes (Ferguson et al., 2009; Kaltiala-Heino et
al., 2000), regardless of type of involvement (e.g., bully,
bully-victim, victim).
Diathesis–Stress and Internalizing Problems
Stressful life events play a primary role in the development
of depression (Garber & Horowitz, 2002; Hammen &
Rudolph, 2003), anxiety (Leen-Feldner, Zvolensky, &
Feldner, 2006), and posttraumatic stress disorder (Bernstein et al., 2005). For example, major negative life events
(e.g., parental loss or divorce, peer problems) are related to
the onset and maintenance of depressive symptoms (Hammen, 1991; Hammen & Rudolph, 2003) that, in cyclical
fashion, lead to additional negative life events and later
depressive symptoms (e.g., Potthoff, Holahan, & Joiner,
1995). Negative life events are also related to the onset and
maintenance of anxiety disorders, with anxious individuals
seeing the world as a threatening place, and interpreting
events through a lens of worry and fear (Beck, Emery, &
Greenberg, 1985). Gazelle and Ladd (2003) suggest that
May–June 2015 ● American Psychologist 347
children’s feelings of anxiety about social situations, when
paired with behavioral inhibition, can serve as a cognitive
diathesis, with peer victimization functioning as an added
stressor. Schmidt, Polak, and Spooner (2001) found that the
experience of stressful life events, such as peer rejection,
by individuals with a genetic diathesis can lead to different
physiological reactions (e.g., changes in heart rate, cortisol,
electroencephalogram [EEG] activity), which are too uncomfortable for the individual to maintain engagement in
the social situation. Negative peer experiences, in turn,
confirm that the world is a threatening place, leading to
more worry about peer interactions, which, in turn, are
linked to internalizing and externalizing difficulties (Kearney, 2001).
One rather clear example of the potential applicability
of a diathesis–stress model to the outcomes associated with
the stress of peer victimization considers the impact of a
biological vulnerability. Consistent with a diathesis–stress
model, recent research on the biological factors underlying
depression has documented the moderating role played by
the serotonin transporter gene, 5-HTTLPR, in the relationship between stress and depression (Karg, Burmeister,
Shedden, & Sen, 2011). For example, Caspi and colleagues
(2003) found that maltreated children who possess a “shortshort” allele for the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism were far
more likely to be depressed as adults than those with a
short-long or long-long allele, who were found to be no
more risk for depression than nonmaltreated children. Extending the diathesis–stress model of depression to our
understanding of childhood peer victimization, researchers
have shown that victimized children with the short-short
allele are more likely to be depressed than those with the
long-long allele (Benjet, Thompson, & Gotlib, 2010; Iyer,
Dougall, & Jensen-Campbell, 2013). Longitudinally, victimized children with the short-short allele for 5HTTLPR
have also been found to be at greater risk for emotional
problems (Sugden et al., 2010; see Vaillancourt, Hymel, &
McDougall, 2013, for a fuller discussion).Analysis Of Research PSY 830 Essay
Consistent with our arguments for consideration of
both a diathesis–stress model and a social-ecological model
of peer victimization, recent twin research by Brendgen
and colleagues has shown how the impact of genetic predispositions can vary as a function of school context.
Specifically, they found that a genetic disposition for aggression placed students at greater risk for peer victimization in classes in which norms for aggressive behavior were
negative, but seemed to operate as a protective factor,
reducing the likelihood of peer victimization, when students were in classrooms with norms favoring aggression
(Brendgen, Girard, Vitaro, Dionne, & Boivin, 2013a).
Brendgen et al. (2011) also found that a positive teacher–student relationship mitigated the link between peer
victimization and a genetic predisposition for aggression. Thus, the diathesis–stress model, in combination
with a social-ecological framework, holds promise in
understanding peer victimization, but what about bully
Diathesis–Stress and Externalizing Problems
Ferguson and Dyck (2012) argue for the application of a
diathesis–stress model to explain the development of aggression, suggesting that the approach has greater explanatory power for understanding aggressive behavior than
social–cognitive and social learning theories, and offers an
important heuristic for understanding the complexities of
aggression. Some research has begun to examine externalizing behavior from a diathesis–stress perspective. For example, parental psychopathology and maltreatment are diatheses for the development of externalizing problems in
youth (Walker, Downey, & Bergman, 1989), and disengaged coping mediates the relationship between peer stress
and overt aggression among boys (Sontag & Graber, 2010).
Increased aggression has also been associated with greater
depression, mediated by peer rejection in school (Panak &
Garber, 1992). In a study examining the link between peer
victimization and child aggression among 506 6-year-old
twins, Brendgen et al. (2008) found support for a diathesis–
stress model, with peer victimization as a diathesis for the
development of aggression in boys, regardless of genetic
vulnerability. Finally, Brendgen, Girard, Vitaro, Dionne,
and Boivin (2013b) found that a strong genetic predisposition for physical aggression was more likely to be expressed when peer group norms favored aggressive behavior but not when peer norms disfavored such behavior.
Thus, a diathesis–stress model takes into account the interaction of individual vulnerabilities, specific life stressors,
and aggression. Of interest here is whether the model can
be applied to bullying perpetration, a subcategory of aggression.
At least two lines of research demonstrate the potential utility of applying diathesis–stress models to our understanding of peer bullying—one considering a potential
biological vulnerability (the hereditable tendency for psychopathy) and the other considering a cognitive vulnerability (the capacity for moral disengagement). With regard
to the former, studies have demonstrated links between
bullying perpetration among youth and callous-unemotional traits (e.g., Thornton, Frick, Crapanzano, & Terranova, 2013; Viding et al., 2009), indifference to the harm
caused to others (Rigby & Slee, 1993), and willingness to
manipulate others for one’s own gain (Sutton & Keogh,
2001). More recently, Fanti and Kimonis (2012) followed
1,416 adolescents in Greece-Cyprus from Grades 7 through
9 to investigate the links between bullying and the three
traits identified as core characteristics of psychopathy in
youth—callous-unemotional traits, narcissism, and impulsivity. Impulsivity and narcissism predicted high levels of
bullying in early adolescence, regardless of levels of callousness or conduct problems. However, all three psychopathic traits contributed to greater levels of reported bullying, and the combination of callous-unemotional traits
and conduct problems predicted the highest levels of bullying, even as levels of bullying generally declined with
age. Thus, for a small subsample of bullies, early psychopathic tendencies may serve as a diathesis for bullying
348 May–June 2015 ● American Psychologist
perpetration, a tendency that Cullen (2009) suggests in
explaining the 1998 Columbine massacre.
With regard to the latter—cognitive vulnerability—a
recent meta-analysis by Gini, Pozzoli, and Hymel (2014)
documents the tendency for children and youth who bully
others to morally disengage, a cognitive mechanism that
allows individuals to justify and rationalize cruel behavior
in ways that make it seem less harmful (see Bandura, 1999,
2002; Hymel & Bonanno, 2014; Hymel, Schonert-Reichl,
Bonanno, Vaillancourt, & Rocke Henderson, 2010). Although the tendency to morally disengage may function as
a cognitive vulnerability (diathesis) contributing to the
likelihood of bullying, this tendency is also affected by
peer experiences with victimization, underscoring the utility of also considering a social-ecological framework. Specifically, in one of the early studies examining bullying
involvement and moral disengagement, Hymel, Rocke
Henderson, and Bonanno (2005) found that youth who
never bullied reported low levels of moral disengagement
for bullying, and youth who bullied frequently reported
high levels of moral disengagement, but youth who reported that they sometimes bullied others varied in level of
moral disengagement as a function of their experiences
with victimization. The more often they experienced victimization themselves, the less likely they were to morally
disengage regarding bullying. Thus, emerging research
suggests that a diathesis–stress model, considered within a
social-ecological framework, may serve as a useful heuristic for understanding involvement in bullying and may
provide greater explanatory power for research findings on
the bully-victim phenomenon.
A Social-Ecological Diathesis–Stress
Model of Bullying: Applications
and Limitations
According to diathesis–stress models, the development of
psychological difficulties occurs through the interaction of
an individual’s biological and cognitive vulnerabilities and
stressful life experiences. Involvement in bullying is conceptualized as a stressful life event, influenced by multiple
social stressors. However, the presence of social stressors
does not fully explain the development of psychological
difficulties like depression, anxiety, and aggression. Rather,
stressful life events can be exacerbated by biological vulnerabilities and can activate cognitive vulnerabilities, leading to more significant, negative outcomes. Cognitive diathesis is conceptualized as a distorted lens through which
individuals interpret life events (Chango et al., 2012; Hammen & Rudolph, 2003). If negative events are attributed to
global, stable, and internal cognitive schemas, and negative
beliefs about self, world, and future, individuals are at
increased risk for internalizing and externalizing problems.
In one study that supports the utility of a social-ecological,
diathesis–stress model of peer victimization, Bonanno and
Hymel (2010) explored why some victimized youth are
more vulnerable to suicidal ideation than others, finding
more suicidal ideation among victims who felt more socially hopeless (cognitive diathesis) and who reported less
family support (an environmental protective factor).
Beliefs about the self, world, and future are rooted in
early experiences, with stable cognitive structures beginning to solidify around the age of 9 (Stark et al., 1996). By
adolescence, abstract thinking becomes more advanced,
allowing youth to develop more stable concepts about
themselves, the world, and the future. Negative self-concept has been shown to be a critical element in predicting
involvement in both bullying and victimization (Marsh,
Parada, Yeung, & Healey, 2001). Peer victimization can
activate negative self-schemas (e.g., “I’m a loser; everyone
hates me”), leading to perceptions of the self as unlovable
and/or worthless (characterological self-blame; Graham &
Juvonen, 1998b), to experiencing the world as hostile, and
to the development of a negative outlook on the future,
enhancing one’s risk for depression (Stark et al., 1996).
Alternatively, bullying perpetration might result from activation of a threat schema (e.g., “Everyone is going to bully
me”), which can promote negative self–other beliefs (e.g.,
“I’d better ruin her reputation before she ruins mine”),
leading the individual to become aggressive in social relationships in order to maintain power and control. Individuals who bully others might also operate from hostile
schemas about self or others (e.g., “I deserve what I can
take from others” or “Losers deserve what they get”),
leading to negative beliefs about others and a sense of
entitlement, supporting the tendency to morally disengage
regarding bullying.Analysis Of Research PSY 830 Essay
In this article, we have argued for the integration of a
social-ecological diathesis–stress model to address bullying and victimization, one which recognizes the complex
and dynamic nature of bullying involvement across multiple settings (i.e., home, neighborhood, school, and community) and over time. The social-ecology model takes into
account the interconnections in a child’s world, and the
diathesis–stress model allows for an understanding of the
complexity of stressors and risk/protective factors that influence both engagement and intervention in bullying. We
recognize, however, that the proposed integrated model is
primarily applicable in cases in which bullying and victimization contribute to significant psychological and mental
health difficulties. For many children and youth, bullying
involvement reflects developing capacities for social engagement and explorations of the exercise of power, and
for these youth, bullying may be best addressed though
educational efforts to enhance the social skills and
awareness needed for effective and positive interpersonal relationships (see and www.casel-
.org). When bullying and victimization lead to clinical
difficulties, however, we believe that application of a
social-ecological diathesis–stress perspective holds considerable promise. Future research is needed to test the
applicability of this integrated model, and our hope is
that this review helps stimulate such research and enhance our efforts to understand and address the complexity of bullying among children and youth. Analysis Of Research PSY 830 Essay

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