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Ganging up or sticking together? Group processes and children's responses to text-message bullying

Authors


Correspondence should be addressed to Siân E. Jones, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Tower Building, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, UK (e-mail: jonesse21@cf.ac.uk).

Abstract

Drawing on social identity theory and intergroup emotion theory (IET), we examined group processes underlying bullying behaviour. Children were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a perpetrator's group, a target's group, or a third party group. They then read a gender-consistent scenario in which the norm of the perpetrator's group (to be kind or unkind towards others) was manipulated, and an instance of cyberbullying between the perpetrator's group and a member of the target's group was described. It was found that group membership, group norms, and the proposed antecedents of the group-based emotions of pride, shame, and anger (but not guilt) influenced group-based emotions and action tendencies in ways predicted by social identity and IET. The results underline the importance of understanding group-level emotional reactions when it comes to tackling bullying, and show that being part of a group can be helpful in overcoming the negative effects of bullying.

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