Definitional constructs of cyber‐bullying and cyber‐aggression from a triangulatory overview: a preliminary study into elements of cyber‐bullying

Published date28 September 2012
Date28 September 2012
AuthorDorothy W. Grigg
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Sociology
Definitional constructs of cyber-bullying
and cyber-aggression from a triangulatory
overview: a preliminary study into elements
of cyber-bullying
Dorothy W. Grigg
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the acts that constitute cyber-bullying and to see how
from a lay concept these acts are classified.
Design/methodology/approach – Data were gathered using two groups of participants (two Australian
participants and three British participants may posit different cultural views). The first set of data was
generated through cyber-bullying element extraction from cyber-bullying literature and interviews were
conducted with fivecollege students (three from the United Kingdom and two from Australia). The second
set was generated through open ended demonstration of internet negative acts such as sending
unwanted messages, rude images, threats and malicious messages in a scenario classification
questionnaire. This involved the recruitment of 114 first year undergraduate psychology students in the
United Kingdom. The scenario questionnaire measured participants’ categorisation of internet negative
acts froma lay perspective.Par ticipants’ perceptionsof cyber-bullying were examined through grounded
theory and thematic narratives to see how these findings differ from literature in the cyber-bullying arena.
Findings – Emerging theory indicates the need to treat cyber-bullying as a standalone entity without the
confounding role that the more traditional concept of bullying plays in cyber bullying definitions.
Additionally,internet negative acts, irrespective of their terminological classifications, were perceived as
immoral and anti-social. Suggestions were made to aid practitioners’to implement interventions against
Research limitations/implications Participant numbers at stage one were limited. Thus, it is
suggested future replication(s) of this study employ(s) a larger number of participants so as to ascertain
the generalisability of findings. It is also suggested that potential future studies should employ
quantitative analyses to further triangulate the findings of the current study.
Originality/value – The strength of the present study lies in its rich qualitative triangulation, as well as its
focus on exploring elements that constitute cyber-bullying from a lay perspective.
Keywords Cyber-bullying, Cyber-aggression, Elements, Categorization,Commonality,
Individual behaviour, Bullying, Cross-cultural studies
Paper type Research paper
Researchers outside the UK and Europe have explored subsets of aggression regarding the use
of internetand mobile phones(Mishna et al., 2009).This has includedcyber-harassment,cyber-
stalking,cyber-bullying andcyber-abuse.In the UK, Australia,North Americaand some parts of
Europe, cyber-bullying is the preferred term used to identify these negative internet acts.
Additionally,it has been suggestedthere is a need toaddress the definitionalissues associated
with bullying via communication devices (Coyne et al., 2009; Menesini and Nocentini, 2009).
Thesesuggestions resultfrom the concepts of‘ ‘repetition of thenegative acts’’ and ‘‘imbalance
of power’’ that are eminent in the victim-bully relationship in traditional forms of bullying that are
now being applied to cyber-bullying (Vandeboschand van Cleemput, 2008; Doo ley etal .,2009).
PAGE 202
VOL.4NO.42012,pp.202-215,QEmeraldGroup Publishi ng Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 DOI 10.1108/17596591 211270699
Dorothy W. Grigg is based
in the Department of
Psychology, Goldsmiths,
University of London,
London, UK.
The author would like to
express profound gratitude to
Professor Jane Ireland for her
support, patience and kindness
throughout the presentation of
this study. The author would
also like to thank the reviewers
for their assistance on
supporting the development of
this paper. She would also like
to thank the Chair of the COST
ISO901 Action Professor Peter.
K. Smith and the board of
committees for providing the
funding opportunity for young
researchers in Europe to attend
training school in Australia to
further gain cross cultural
perception knowledge on
cyber-bullying and its
preventative measures. Cost
action website can be found at

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