An attributional analysis of peer victimisation and bullying behaviour in school children : a replication and extension : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Bullying and victimisation of children by their peers' is a perennial problem. Previous studies have shown that both the bully and the victimised child are at risk of psychological problems at the time an in later life. In this study the relationship between characterological versus behavioural self-blaming attributions for victimisation and maladjustment, and peer reactions (rejection/acceptance) was examined in a replication of a study by Graham and Juvonen (1998a). Graham and Juvonen's (1998a) study was also extended here by looking at an extended age range, teachers' views and issues related to bullying. One hundred and sixty-one participants (51 males, 110 females) ranging in age from 10 to 17 years old completed questionnaires that assessed self-perceptions of bullying behaviour and victim status, attributions for hypothetical victimisation situations, and feelings of loneliness, social anxiety, and self-worth. Participants also completed peer-rating measures looking at perceptions of others' bullying behaviour and victim status, and their acceptance and rejection of others in their class. Classroom teachers' completed a measure rating participants in their class on bullying behaviour and victim status. In terms of victimisation, results suggest that as in Graham and Juvonen (1998a) characterological self-blame (CSB) partially mediated the relationship between self-perceived victimisation and adjustment problems. Also consistent with the findings of Graham and Juvonen (1998a), self views of victim status were more predictive of intrapersonal factors (loneliness, social anxiety, and self-worth) and others' (peers' and teachers') views were more predictive of interpersonal factors (peer acceptance/rejection). In terms of bullying behaviour, participants' who reported high levels of self-perceived bullying behaviour also reported lower levels of self-worth. This relationship was moderated by peer perceptions of bullying. Additionally, peers' perceptions of bullying behaviour were related to higher levels of rejection by peers. Further, this rejection was more pronounced when teachers viewed the children as bullies. Further, some supplementary results are discussed, and limitations and suggestions for further research are proposed.