Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Barry S. Markman


This research examined the ways in which person-level factors (social goals, self-efficacy for defending, moral disengagement, and empathy) influence bullying and bystander experiences of middle school students. Participants (N = 207) in grades 6 to 8 (ages 11- to 15-years-old) who were enrolled in a suburban Public School Academy (i.e., charter school) middle school located in Southeastern Michigan completed a self-report questionnaire on one occasion. Multivariate analysis of variance revealed gender and grade differences in person-level factors. Gender differences were found for victimization. Females experienced significantly more social victimization than males. Multiple regression analyses revealed a synergistic effect for some, but not all, person-level factors on bullying and bystander behavior. Agentic goals, self-efficacy for defending, moral disengagement were significant predictors. Individually, affective, but not cognitive, empathy was significant for overall, verbal, and social bullying. However, moderated multiple regression analyses revealed that gender significantly moderated the relationship between cognitive empathy and overall bullying, such that the relationship is significantly negative and stronger for males and not significant and weaker for females. Grade moderated the relationship between cognitive empathy and verbal bullying.