New directions in cyberbullying theory and research: Multidimensional structural models of cyberbullying and theorised relations with traditional bullying constructs

Year: 2012

Author: Craven, Rhonda, Marder, Kurt

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:

Purpose

A hallmark of academic rigor is that theory, research, and practice are inextricably intertwined; a weakness in any one of these areas undermines the others. In cyberbullying research in particular and traditional bullying research in general this hallmark is yet to be fully achieved. Cyberbullying research has addressed substantive problems and between-construct issues before within-construct issues such as definition, structure, and measurement have been resolved. In this presentation we present: a mature structural theoretical model of bullying and victimization constructs to contribute to advancing cyberbullying theory and research derived from empirical findings in traditional bullying research.

Method

We develop new cyberbullying theoretical models stemming from recent empirical findings in relation to traditional bullying constructs and their relations (e.g., Marsh, Nagengast, Morin, Parada, Craven, & Hamilton, 2011). The latter findings are based on applying ESEM to explicate key bullying constructs and demonstrate their relation to tackle complex substantive within-construct issues in traditional bullying research. Based on this body of research we develop multidimensional theoretical models of cyberbullying and cyber targetization and describe the nature of bystander roles.

Results

We present a new holistic, hierarchical multidimensional theoretical conceptualization of the structure and relation of cyberbullying and cyber targetization constructs to traditional bullying and victimization constructs to theorize the potential place of cyberbullying constructs within structural models of traditional bullying in an attempt to integrate traditional and cyberbullying within-construct research.

Conclusion

Until issues of within-construct validity have been dealt with, it is likely that: integration of advances in the field will be problematic; the generalizability of cyberbullying findings will remain severely limited; findings will be ambiguous; the complexity of the nature and structure of cyberbullying constructs will remain unresolved; and importantly the relation of cyberbullying constructs to traditional bullying and victimization constructs will remain unclear. The theoretical models proposed provide theory-driven approaches that can underpin the development of psychometrically sound measurement instruments to test the salience of these models and the theory supported, revised, or refuted based on empirical evidence.

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