Brett Holfeld

Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Mark Grabe


Advancements in technology in the past decade have corresponded with the emergence of a new form of bullying called cyber bullying or bullying through the use of technology. The Social Ecological Model was used as a guide to examine the development of cyber bullying through the dynamic interactions between adolescents and their social environment (i.e., peer group, family, and school). The main goal of the study was to examine the perceptions and attributions of bystanders to cyber bullying. A scenario was constructed that described a hypothetical middle school students' experience with cyber bullying. Middle school participants (N = 1,151) were randomly assigned to one of six experimental conditions that varied in terms of the type of response (ignored it, reported the behavior, confronted the bully) and blogger gender (male, female). A 3x2 MANCOVA (with perceptions of cyber bullying as covariates) examined Type of Response x Gender effects on attributions for the student's cyber bullying experience/outcome (i.e., cyber bullying continued). Victims were perceived as having more control, greater responsibility and greater blame when they responded by ignoring the behavior than when they reported it. Findings suggest that victims may not be trying hard enough to stop the behavior or may not be taken seriously when they respond passively to their experience for bystanders to intervene. The implications for future research are discussed.