Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Stephen B. Hillman


The purpose of this study was to examine the shared variables that contribute to direct and indirect aggression, specifically bullying and to explore the role of family context, and adolescent personality characteristics on predicting bullying behavior. The theoretical framework of this study was based on evidence that no specific element can describe why some individuals are at risk for behaving aggressively and other are more resilient. The study included 259 middle schools students in grades six through eight. The students were enrolled at a single middle school located in a suburban area. The largest group of students was African American, lived with both parents or mother only, and qualified for free or reduced lunch programs. The students' self-reported academic achievement appeared to reflect typical grades in a middle school. Five instruments, Peer Experiences Questionnaire, Parental Monitoring Scale, The Big Five Inventory, Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire - Revised, and Parental Support for Fighting, were used to obtain information regarding bullying, role of family context, and adolescent personality characteristics. Four research questions and associated hypotheses were developed for the study. The findings of the study indicated that male students tended to be perpetrators in direct bullying more often than female students and girls were more likely to be victims in incidents of cyberbullying. The hypotheses were not supported, indicating that family context and personality characteristics were not related to bullying. A floor effect was noted in the Peer Experiences Questionnaire that resulted in limited variance in the students' responses to bullying. A different instrument to measure direct and indirect bullying should be considered to provide greater variance in bullying. Another limitation is the use of a single middle school. Additional research using middle schools in different geographic areas should be considered to obtain more information about perpetrators of bullying.