PSYC10211 Developmental Psychology

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How can psychology be used to combat online bullying?

Research is used to critically assess two psychological approaches.


The following paper examines how psychology can be used to address online bullying among teenagers critically.

The evaluation will include the analysis of two psychological approaches to social influences.

As teenage bullying via the internet increases at a rapid pace, the term “cyberbullying” has become a common phrase.

Cyber bullying is a term that refers to teenagers sending abusive messages and sending threatening emails via the chat room. They can also post humiliating videos to social media sites (Al-Shawaf and al.

The apparent attraction of social media sites is making the problem a social menace.

Before I can explain how psychology can be used to address cyber bullying or teenage cyber bullying, I need to identify the reasons for it, its various types, and its impact on teenagers.

Denigration and cyberbullying are two of the most common forms of cyber bullying among teenagers.

People often denigrate other people by sending fake or damaging information to them for the sake of having fun and sharing gossips and rumours (Al Shafaf et. al.

However, cyber stalking and repeated messages of harassment threats and intimidation are another type of cyber bullying. This is increasing at an alarming rate.

Sigel and colleagues.

(2014). According to Sigel et al.

Embarrassement and mental distress are the two most damaging effects of cyber bullying on teenagers.

Cyber bullying has a negative effect on teenagers’ academic performance and can also affect their relationships with their parents (Pickering and al.

Teens who are victims of cyberbullying experience low self-esteem, isolation and finding excuses to harm themselves, weight loss, self-harm, and self-harm.

The latest statistics indicate that 20% of teens are being bullied by cyberbullies and fear going to school.

The statistics show that more than 5% have attempted suicide and that 3% have attempted self harm (Gibson 2017, 2017).

It is important to mention that nearly 28% (Seligman, Csikszentmihalyi (2014)) of social networking site users have reported being victim to cyberbullying via Twitter.

It is important to mention that the influence and social behavior of psychological approaches in dealing with online teenage bullying are dominant.

As human behavior becomes more complicated, friendship, which is one the most important consequences, becomes more complex and mutual support is less important (Lepper, Greene, 2015).

It is important to note that social influence can have an effect on human behaviours.

According to the Social Learning Theory, psychological approaches are responsible of shaping the behavioural attributes.

According to the social learning theories, teenagers learn a variety of behavioural characteristics by watching and imitating other behavior (Csikszentmihalyi 2014.

It is important to note that online bullying tends to be more common in teenagers who bully others.

Two psychological perspectives should be assessed in each case: cognitive approach, and behavioural approach.

Psychologists who believe in cognitive approach say that human behaviour is affected by emotions and human expectation.

Jean Piaget explains that people tend to remember and do things based on the information they have (Bartol, Bartol 2014).

However, the behavioural approach argues that human behaviour is heavily influenced by external stimuli.

This approach states that human behaviours are observed-based.

The view is therefore indicative that observed behaviours can influence social attitudes (Zimbardo, Boyd 2015).

People learn more from punishments than reinforcements, according to the theory.

Concerning cyber bullying, we can say that both cognitive and behavioral approaches are heavily involved in the psychological reasoning behind bullying others via social media.

It can be said that bullying is influenced by cognitive traits.

In fact, the intent to take revenge is very common among teenagers (Zimbardo, Boyd, 2015).

It has been shown that teens are most likely to cyber bully others who they feel are a threat to their own safety.

Bullying via various social networking sites is therefore dominated by human emotions.

Human bullying is a result of expectations and human emotions.

Teenage is known as the age of adolescence. This is when most people experience a love affair and betrayal.

Betrayal and love are possible interrelated causes that can increase the human need to exact revenge (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014).

The cognitive psychological approach to human behaviour, which posits that human behavior is the product of human emotion and expectation, is accepted.

However, the psychological approach to behaviour states that human behavior is imitative and is affected in part by the external environment.

Online bullying can be viewed from the perspective of behavioural psychology. It can be said that people often bully others to imitate others.

People will want to imitate the majority when they see many people laughing at a person or thing.

However, there are times when people enjoy online bullying because they see numerous influential people who bully any one person or group.

People bully in order to be popular or get social recognition (Seligman, Csikszentmihalyi 2014.).

Bullying could also arise from the desire to be famous or gain social approvals.

The behavioural approach to bullying teens online is the most important factor in cyberbullying. Teenagers tend to be more inclined than adults to copy others or follow the environment around them.

But, instead of arguing that imitation falls under the behavioural view, one could argue that the act of copying others is motivated by any emotional expectation.

In other words, people seek out to emulate others in order satisfy their inner expectations.

Bullying others through imitating is an act that is driven mainly by the cognitive psychological approach of imitation to gaining social recognition (Zimbardo, Boyd 2015).

The fact that people seek revenge for their inner feelings is not something to ignore.

It seems that the two psychological perspectives can be interrelated to understand the reasons behind online bullying of teenage girls.

Consider both the cognitive psychological and behavioural aspects. It is imperative to mention that to properly address cyber bullying among teens, it is necessary to first investigate the environment.

The family’s behavioural patterns should also be investigated (Gibson, 2017).

Because of the psychological approach to behaviorism, teenage adolescents’ family characteristics have a huge impact on their mental activities.

To address this growing social problem, counseling and thorough investigation are necessary.

There are several things that can be drawn from the above-detailed discourse.

First, cyber bullying is increasing among teens. It can take the form of cyber stalking and cyber bullying as well as online threats and denigration.

The paper is an indicator of the fact that teens are increasingly isolated from their external worlds due to cyber bullying.

Two psychological approaches or perspectives – cognitive and behavioral – can be used to evaluate cyber bullying among teens. They say people will bully others when their environment is influenced by their characteristics.

However, the behavioral approach suggests that bullying is driven by an inner emotion, which can lead to revenge.

Refer to

Al-Shawaf L. Conroy-Beam D. Asao K. and Buss D.M. 2016, 2016.

The evolutionary psychology of human emotions.

Emotion Review 8(2), pp. 173-181.

Bartol A.M. & Bartol C.R. 2014

Criminal behavior: A psychological perspective.

A psychology of optimal experiences (pp.


Bullying in the digital age: An analysis and critical review of cyberbullying research among young people.

Greene, D.

2015. The hidden costs and rewards of reward: New perspectives on psychology of motivation.

Psychology Press.

Maslach C. and Jackson S.E. 2013.

A social psychological analysis.

227. Social psychology of health & illness.

Pickering G. Gibson S. and Nexus A.C. 2015

Pain, Emotions and Cognition.

Springer International Publishing

Positive psychology: An introduction (pp.

Goodnow, J.J.

Parental beliefs systems: The psychological consequences of their actions on children.

Psychology Press.

Tarablus T. Heiman T., and Olenik Shemesh D.

Cyber bullying among teens in Israel: A comparison of traditional bullying and cyber bullying.

Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Tragedy, 24(6), pp.707–720.

Boyd, J.N. (2015).

Time Perspective Theory. Review, Research and Application (pp.

Springer International Publishing.

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