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UBC Theses and Dissertations

I’ll be there for you? : the bystander intervention model and cyber aggression Karasavva, Vasileia


The Bystander Intervention Model has been validated for face-to-face emergencies and dictates that observers’ decision to intervene hinges on five sequential steps, while barriers block progress between steps. The current study is the first, to our knowledge, to apply the model in its entirety to cyber aggression. In our pre-registered study, emerging adults (N = 1093) viewed pilot-tested cyber aggressive content and reported how they would engage with each of the steps and barriers of the model, if they were observing this content as a bystander in real life. Regarding the actions they would take, most participants chose non-intervention (doing nothing; 36.3%) or private direct intervention (sending a private message conveying support to the target of the aggression; 39.4%). Structural equation modelling analyses suggested that overall, the Bystander Intervention Model can explain bystanders’ responses to cyber aggression. Nonetheless, there were some discrepancies with prior work on face-to-face emergencies, specifically that the sequential nature of the model dissipated after Step 3 and barriers negatively predicted multiple steps. These findings elucidate ways in which cyber aggression and the online context may be similar to, as well as different from, aggression that occurs face-to-face. Implications of these findings for interventions are discussed.

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