Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

School Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Greg Machek

Commitee Members

Margaret Beebe-Frankenberger, Duncan Campbell, Daniel Denis, Trent Atkins


University of Montana

Subject Categories



Student attitudes regarding bullying are mixed. Although most students appear to condemn the behavior (Boulton & Underwood, 1992), a sizable minority group displays beliefs and attitudes supportive of bullying (Rigby & Slee, 1991; Rigby & Slee, 1993). Previous research has also found that students involved in bullying situations can be categorized into different roles based on their behaviors during bullying episodes (Samivalli, Huttunen, & Lagerspetz, 1997). An established method to measure and predict attitudes and thoughts about a person’s actions in a situation is to use an attribution framework. Weiner (1995) proposes an attribution model in which the observer’s thoughts about a person’s responsibility in a given situation give rise to feelings (sympathy or anger), which in turn leads to subsequent behaviors. Numerous studies have found these affective responses to be particularly powerful indicators of subsequent help-giving (for a meta-analytic review, see Rudolph, Roesch, Greitmeyer, & Weiner, 2004). In a sample of 958 middle school students, responses on victim perceived controllability, sympathy, anger, and intentions of helping the bully were obtained for two vignettes depicting an incident of bullying. Participants also answered questions about their own roles in bullying incidents in school. Results indicated that there were significant mean difference in participants’ judgments of responsibility, sympathy, anger, and intentions of helping the bully based on the information included in the vignette. Overall, it was found that levels of anger and sympathy toward the victim mediate the relationship between their judgments of responsibility for the victim and their intentions of helping the bully. However, there were differences found in the attribution model based on the participants’ self-reported roles in bullying situations as well as their gender. Implications for future research and intervention strategies are further discussed in this paper.

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© Copyright 2013 Christopher James Bushard