Individual and collective moral influences on intervention in cyberbullying

Kimberley R. Allison*, Kay Bussey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Despite their potential to reduce or remedy the impact of cyberbullying, most bystanders do not intervene in witnessed incidents. Social cognitive theory suggests this response is due to interactive influences of personal, behavioural and environmental factors, and further shaped by the social and cultural context. However, this has not been empirically tested in cyberbullying bystanders. In this study, 563 grade 7 and 9 students completed a survey to examine the associations between intervention and morality, at the individual and peer-group levels. Results revealed that intervention was significantly associated with gender, grade, previous experiences of cyberbullying, and the interaction between individual and collective moral variables. More frequent intervention was reported by females, grade 7 students, and those with more experience as victims and witnesses of cyberbullying. Finally, collective moral disengagement moderated the effects of individual morality. In disengaged classes, higher moral standards were associated with more frequent intervention; furthermore, in extremely morally disengaged classes, higher moral disengagement was associated with more frequent intervention. These results suggest that consistent with social cognitive theory, individuals’ perceptions of social norms moderate the influence of individual morality on intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-15
Number of pages9
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • cyberbullying
  • bystander intervention
  • cyber-bystander
  • moral standards
  • moral disengagement
  • collective moral disengagement


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