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Don't push my buttons! Emotions and online behavior in adolescence

A rapidly growing body of research acknowledges the importance of cyberbullying as a new form of bullying among youngsters. This research has shed light on the prevalence of cyberbullying, features of cyberbullies and cybervictims, and antecedents and consequences related to cyberbullying involvement. However, most of the cyberbullying research endeavors are not guided by theory. In contrast, research on other forms of bullying, such as bullying in the workplace, does have a sound theoretical framework. Workplace bullying scholars have consistently found links between stress experiences at work and workplace bullying. They have developed several theories explaining this association. In my PhD research, I draw on these theories (and others) to examine how cyberbullying involvement, either as a bully or as a victim, may be related to the events adolescents experience and associated emotions. Following recent research developments, I will not only consider the influence of negative events and emotions on negative digital behavior (cyberbullying), but also explore how positive events and emotions might counteract negative experiences and bring about prosocial digital behavior. Furthermore, I will investigate how stress, emotions and cyberbullying involvement experienced in the work or school context by one family member might transfer to another family member by assessing dyads of adolescents and their working parents. This innovative study will be the first to study the crossover of stress, emotions and cyberbullying behavior among youngsters and their parents.

My research questions will be addressed with two studies: a longitudinal study among 1500 adolescents in the first grade of secondary school and a daily diary study among 200 dyads of adolescents and their working parents. The longitudinal study will comprise a questionnaire that will be administered to the same students three times with a six months’ interval in between each administration. The quantitative daily diary study will consist of a short diary that has to be completed for seven consecutive days both by the adolescents and their parents. I will conduct this study together with Ivana Vranjes, the other PhD-student working on this project.

Through this research project, I aim to advance knowledge about underlying factors and processes leading to cyberbullying involvement and about ways in which they can be counteracted. The theoretical basis I build on, the inclusion of positive concepts and the attention for crossover effects make this research original and socially relevant. Therefore, through this PhD research I not only wish to make a significant contribution to the scientific community, but also to the society at large.

Date:1 Sep 2014 →  21 Aug 2018
Keywords:cyberbullying, emotion regulation, adolescents
Disciplines:Biological and physiological psychology, General psychology, Other psychology and cognitive sciences
Project type:PhD project