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The Role of Individual Correlates and Class Norms in Defending and Passive Bystanding Behavior in Bullying: A Multilevel Analysis


  • The writing of this article was partially supported by a Research Associate Grant (CPDR090824) and by Grant CPDA085704 from the University of Padova.

concerning this article should be addressed to Tiziana Pozzoli, Department of Developmental and Social Psychology, University of Padova, Via Venezia 8, 35131 Padova, Italy. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study investigates possible individual and class correlates of defending and passive bystanding behavior in bullying, in a sample of 1,825 Italian primary school (mean age = 10 years 1 month) and middle school (mean age = 13 years 2 months) students. The findings of a series of multilevel regression models show that both individual (e.g., provictim attitudes and perceived peer pressure for intervention) and class characteristics (e.g., class provictim attitudes, peer injunctive norms, and descriptive norms) help explain defending and passive bystanding behavior in bullying. These results significantly expand previous findings in this field, by demonstrating the need for a social-ecological approach to the study of the different aspects of bullying. Implications for antibullying programs are discussed.