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A comparison of traditional and cyberbullying

In her doctorate, Ida Risanger Sjursø examines how technological advances change bullying. The project compares traditional bullying and cyberbullying, and examines emotional consequences for those experiencing bullying and bullies’ legitimization of bullying.

Both children and adults express themselves via social media. This technological development also leads to changes in how one relates and communicate with other people and this may also affect how someone bully. This can in turn lead to new challenges related to both the bully and the victim. The use of digital media can for instance lead to bullying having a greater audience than the victim realizes, it may become more difficult for the victim to get away and the bully may be less aware of the consequences.

There’s a distinction between traditional bullying that takes place face to face, and cyber-bullying via mobile phone or internet. Several studies find a significant overlap between traditional and cyberbullying. However to identify possible differences it’s considered important to study these two forms of bullying separately.

This PhD project will focus on the victim and the bully’s experience of the bullying and the relationship between them, such as the victim's response and bully’s legitimization. The theoretical framework of the project will be based on theories of aggression and coping.


The project consists of two parts:

Part 1 is quantitative and examines both traditional and cyber- victimization and their relation to different kinds of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression. The sample used for this analysis is from the Centre for Learning Environment’s school environment survey for grade 10, comprising 3046 Norwegian adolescents, 1583 boys and 1463 girls.

As a quantitative analysis only indicates the correlation of the variables, part 1 is used as an initial study for further qualitative analysis of the causality.

Part 2 is a qualitative partial follow-up of part 1 as we take a closer look at the victim's emotional reactions to bullying. This is a case - study comparing cases involving traditional bullying with cases involving both traditional and cyberbullying.

A qualitative study allows for a close-up of interesting processes that take place in addition to bring out the voice of each individual. To get the depth of bullying as a social phenomenon informants will be asked to refer to what happens during bullying episode in a retro-perspective.

The focus will be directed at the victim's emotional experience and coping of bullying as well as the bully’s legitimization. The qualitative interview data from victims, bully and parents / teachers will be collected spring 2014.

Ida Risanger Sjursø

Ida Risanger Sjursø