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

Dorothy W. Grigg (Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK)

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

ISSN: 1759-6599

Article publication date: 28 September 2012




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.


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 five college 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 from a lay perspective. Participants' perceptions of cyber‐bullying were examined through grounded theory and thematic narratives to see how these findings differ from literature in the cyber‐bullying arena.


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 cyber‐bullying.

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.


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.



Grigg, D.W. (2012), "Definitional constructs of cyber‐bullying and cyber‐aggression from a triangulatory overview: a preliminary study into elements of cyber‐bullying", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 202-215.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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