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Experimental Study on the Psychology of Bullying

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 1760 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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Bullying can occur in many different forms and can sometimes be overt or direct in nature.  It can often have negative consequences for both the victims as well as the bullies.  Some of the victims who are bullied have an elevated risk of developing mental health problems later in life (Williford, Boulton, Forrest-Bank, Bender, Dieterich & Jensen, 2016).  Depression, anxiety, low-self-esteem and poor school performance are some of the issues that victims of bullying are experiencing.  Although youth who bully others have often gained the power and status among their peers and it is noted that substance abuse, academic failure, mental health symptoms, aggressive or violent behavior have been related and reported among bullies during their young adulthood and adolescence.  The severity of bullying has elevated bullying to be a public health concern in the United States and worldwide (Williford et al., 2016).  In this paper I will identify the specific experimental research design used in the study, summarize the main points of the experimental research, evaluate the published experimental research and the specific threats to validity, and explain whether threats were adequately addressed by the researchers.

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This research is evaluating an anti-bullying program called Dare to Care: Bully Proofing Your School.  The research hypothesis is that because of participation in these activities, (a) when compared to other school’s victimization would decrease and the attitudes towards victims would improve, and (b) implemented programs in schools would exhibit positive outcomes during long durations (Beran, Tutty & Steinrath, 2004).  This research is comparing the process of how schools can implement anti-bullying programs to those who do not have plans of implementing the program.  According to Beran et al (2004), bullying has been conceptualized from the social learning perspective in which there is a process or peer modeling and reinforcement.  The effort to prevent bullying has become a school-wide approach with the implementation of programs for anti-bullying.

The students in this research attended four of the Calgary Elementary schools which included Catholic and public-schools.  The students were in grades fourth through sixth and the research was encompassed 77 boys and 120 girls who all lived in the same community.  The researchers in this study paired each student’s characteristics to those who were of the same socio-economic status as well as ethnicity throughout all the schools.  The community was middle class and most of the students were Caucasian.  Students were chosen based on their ability to read and understand the standardized measures and parents had to give their informed consent for their students participate in this study (Beran et al., 2004).

The testing process included a teacher who read from a required script.  This script explained that the purpose of the study and the perceptions of bullying through the eyes of the students.  The research measures consisted of 88 questions that were from the Colorado School Climate Survey and the Provictim Scale-Short Version (Beran et al., 2004).  The Provictim Scale was comprised of 10 items that measured the student’s attitudes of bullying or their attitudes toward bullying.  The students would indicate if they agree, disagree, or if they were unsure about some of the statements.  The questions were designed to measure the different aspects of school environments.  The respondents also were asked to indicate if they used any strategies when they were bullied or when they were witnessing someone else being bullied (Beran et al., 2004).

The first component of research was the pretest-3-month posttest that included a comparison between two different schools.   The comparison involved a school that was in the process of implementing an anti-bullying program and one that was not-planning an anti-bullying program.  To gather more evidence two more schools was tested to examine the probable differences over time.  The researcher was trying to see if the utilization of the anti-bullying program was successful after one year of implementation or in another school after two years (Beran et al., 2004).  The researcher tested the schools in June with all three of the components of the program being implemented.  The implementation entailed training, discipline, policy and curriculum of anti-bullying and was applied in cycles of 3-month, 1-year and 2-year program schools.  According to Beran et al (2004), the process of implementation encompassed a great amount of activities that related to school safety and included workshops that introduced topics on anger management and bullying.

During the pretest, students that were in the not-planning program school all provided reports that were positive on different variables than the school that was in the process of implementation (Beran et al., 2004).  This made the proposed across-school statistical comparison in the planning school impossible because within the 3-month study of implementation in schools students noticed a decrease in bullying, but bullying seems to remain steady in the school that was not-planning implementation.  Furthermore, in the not-planning program the attitudes toward the victims start to deteriorate significantly but remained stable at the school that was implementing the program.

The second research component was a comparison between three schools and their implementation of the anti-bullying program.  This research was proposed at different lengths of time and during longer durations.  This process allowed researchers to compare the positive attitudes that students had for those who have been victimized during a shorter program duration.

It was during the shorter program duration that the program effectiveness was notably different, and this started the process of the need to evaluate anti-bullying programs (Beran et al., 2004).

The research study used several methodological studies to evaluate anti-bullying.  The present study consisted of four subscales that incorporated self-reports of bullying that students may have experienced or witnessed and this included their perception of the school climate. The frequency in which students are bullied were rated on a 6-item, 5-point Likert-type scale that started with never and went up to more than five times per week.  The bullying behavior that was included was teasing, hitting, and threatening (Beran et al., 2004).

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The results of this study indicated a substantially difference between two schools on all but two of the outcomes that were measured during the pretest.  The positive perceptions in the comparison school towards the victims, indicated there was a decrease in bullying in the Dare to Care program that was being implemented.  The unexpected differences at the pretest prohibited the use of multivariate analyses of covariance.  This would have measured to see if the program was influenced between pretest and posttest across the two schools.  Both schools were not comparable at pretest in which t tests were paired with separate data for each school to measure the pretest and posttest differences with the outcome measures (Beran et al., 2004).

This study is presenting limited support of being effective because of the decreased witnessing of bullying during the 3-month period and because bullying remained stable when compared to the other school.  The reports of the students being bullied did not decrease, however the victims maintained consistent perceptions of their victimization despite fewer attacks that were being experienced.  The victims may experience social-cognitive deficits that include negative self-perceptions that can limit their problem-solving strategies and influence how they perceive bullying (Beran et al., 2004). 

In this research study there could be possibly many threats to validity such as the small samples that were used to test the students.  According to Martin and Bridgmon (2012), the testing effect can make changes to the posttest scores of participants and this could be influenced by their experience from taking the pretest.  This is very important in research especially when working with children because some children could be considered the bully and do not realize that they are harming others.   Researchers in this study noted that because of school board policies they were not able to collect additional information on student demographics and this could be why the samples were very small and cause some of the limitations in this research.



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