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Keywords:

  • emerging adult;
  • aggression;
  • cyber aggression;
  • online aggression;
  • cyberbullying;
  • normative belief;
  • college student;
  • young adult

Abstract

This longitudinal study examined normative beliefs about aggression (e.g., face-to-face, cyber) in relation to the engagement in cyber aggression 6 months later among 126 (69 women) young adults. Participants completed electronically administered measures assessing their normative beliefs, face-to-face and cyber aggression at Time 1, and cyber aggression 6 months later (Time 2). We found that men reported more cyber relational and verbal aggression when compared to women. After controlling for each other, Time 1 face-to-face relational aggression was positively related to Time 2 cyber relational aggression, whereas Time 1 face-to-face verbal aggression was positively related to Time 2 cyber verbal aggression. Normative beliefs regarding cyber aggression was positively related to both forms of cyber aggression 6 months later, after controlling for normative beliefs about face-to-face aggression. Furthermore, a significant two-way interaction between Time 1 cyber relational aggression and normative beliefs about cyber relational aggression was found. Follow-up analysis showed that Time 1 cyber relational aggression was more strongly related to Time 2 cyber relational aggression when young adults held higher normative beliefs about cyber relational aggression. A similar two-way interaction was found for cyber verbal aggression such that the association between Time 1 and Time 2 cyber verbal aggression was stronger at higher levels of normative beliefs about cyber verbal aggression. Results are discussed in terms of the social cognitive and behavioral mechanisms associated with the engagement of cyber aggression. Aggr. Behav. 39 :161-170, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.