The effect of victims' responses to overt bullying on same-sex peer bystander reactions

Nicole Sokol*, Kay Bussey, Ronald M. Rapee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the impact of victims' responses to overt bullying on peer bystanders' attitudes and reactions. Fifth- and seventh-grade students (N = 206; Mage= 11.13 and 13.18 years, respectively) completed online questionnaires about gender-consistent videotaped hypothetical bullying scenarios in which the victims' responses (angry, sad, confident, ignoring) were experimentally manipulated. Victims' responses significantly influenced bystanders' attitudes towards the victim, perceptions of the victimization, emotional reactions, and behavioral intentions. In general, angry victims elicited more negative reactions, sad victims elicited greater intentions to act, while incidents involving confident victims were perceived as less serious. Several variations depending on the bullying type and students' grade, gender, and personal experiences with bullying were evident. Implications for individual-level and peer-level anti-bullying interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-391
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of School Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • Bullying
  • Victimization
  • Victim response
  • Bystander
  • Peer witness


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