A meta‐analysis of the relationship between moral disengagement and bullying roles in youth

Brittany Killer, Kay Bussey, David J. Hawes, Caroline Hunt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    115 Citations (Scopus)


    Over the last several years, researchers have become increasingly interested in the influence of moral factors on bullying behaviors. This is the first meta‐analytic review to exclusively examine the relationship between moral disengagement (MD) and the key bullying roles of bully, victim, defender, and bystander. Forty‐seven independent samples examining a total of 43,809 children/adolescents (aged 7–19) were included in this meta‐analysis. Results indicated a positive relationship between MD and bullying (r = 0.31; 95% CI [0.27, 0.34]), MD and victimization (r = 0.08; 95% CI [0.05, 0.12]), and a negative relationship between MD and defending (r = −0.11; 95% CI [−0.17, −0.04]). No significant relationship was found for MD and bystanding behavior. Moderators of bullying type (traditional vs. cyberbullying), reporting type (self vs. peer report), age, and gender were included in the analyses. The results are discussed in the context of relevant literature with particular emphasis on the importance of distinguishing between guilty and unconcerned bystanders, and the significant overlap between bullying and victimization in the cyber context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)450-462
    Number of pages13
    JournalAggressive Behavior
    Issue number4
    Early online date21 Mar 2019
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


    • adolescent
    • bullying
    • bystanders
    • child
    • defenders
    • moral disengagement (MD)
    • victimization


    Dive into the research topics of 'A meta‐analysis of the relationship between moral disengagement and bullying roles in youth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this