Please wait a minute...
Advances in Psychological Science    2019, Vol. 27 Issue (7) : 1248-1257     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.01248
Regular Articles |
Bystander behavior in cyberbullying
HUANG Xuzhe,CHU Xiaowei,LIU Qingqi,ZHOU Zongkui,FAN Cuiying()
School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China
Download: PDF(639 KB)   HTML
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks     Supporting Info

Bystanders in cyberbullying refers to “the individuals who witness bullying events online”. The behaviors of bystanders after witnessing bullying can be divided into two types - prosocial behaviors and antisocial behaviors. There are factors that influence bystander’s behaviors which include their personality traits (impulsiveness, extroversion and openness), psychological factors (empathy, self-efficacy, social support and loneliness), the degree of self-disclosure of bullied individuals, and their relationship in the ecological environment, etc. Bystander intervention model, moral disengagement and bystander effect can explain bystander reactions after they witness the cases of cyberbullying. Future studies may make further explorations from the perspectives of cognition, brain mechanism, cross-cultural practices and the constructions of network environment.

Keywords cyberbullying      bystander      social cognition      Bystander Intervention Model     
ZTFLH:  B849: C91  
Corresponding Authors: Cuiying FAN     E-mail:
Issue Date: 22 May 2019
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
Xiaowei CHU
Qingqi LIU
Zongkui ZHOU
Cuiying FAN
Cite this article:   
Xuzhe HUANG,Xiaowei CHU,Qingqi LIU, et al. Bystander behavior in cyberbullying[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2019, 27(7): 1248-1257.
URL:     OR
[1] 陈文平, 段锦云, 田晓明 . (2013). 员工为什么不建言:基于中国文化视角的解析. 心理科学进展, 21(5), 905-913.
[2] 丁凤琴, 陆朝晖 . (2016). 共情与亲社会行为关系的元分析. 心理科学进展, 24(8), 1159-1174.
[3] 林琳 . (2017). 拖延行为的干预:计划行为理论和实施意向的影响. 心理学报, 49(7), 953-965.
[4] 刘勤学, 陈武, 周宗奎 . (2015). 大学生网络使用与网络利他行为:网络使用自我效能和性别的作用. 心理发展与教育, 31(6), 685-693.
[5] 肖凤秋, 郑志伟, 陈英和 . (2014). 共情对亲社会行为的影响及神经基础. 心理发展与教育, 30(2), 208-215.
[6] 王柳生, 蔡淦, 戴家隽, 潘发达, 张海燕 . (2013). 具身情绪: 视觉图片的证据. 中国临床心理学杂志, 21(2), 188-190.
[7] 魏萍, 康冠兰, 丁锦红, 郭春彦 . (2014). 奖赏预期对面孔情绪加工的影响:一项事件相关电位研究. 心理学报, 46(04), 437-449.
[8] 吴鹏, 范晶, 刘华山 . (2017). 道德情绪对网络助人行为的影响——道德推理的中介作用. 心理学报, 49(12), 1559-1569.
[9] 杨继平, 王兴超, 高玲 . (2010). 道德推脱的概念、测量及相关变量. 心理科学进展, 18(4), 671-678.
[10] 叶浩生 . (2012). 具身认知、镜像神经元与身心关系. 广州大学学报(社会科学版), 11(3), 32-36.
[11] 原珂, 齐亮 . (2015). “旁观者”现象: 旁观者介入公共冲突的过程分析及破解策略. 社会主义研究, 219(01), 93-100.
[12] 张德胜, 金耀基, 陈海文, 陈健民, 杨中芳, 赵志裕, 伊莎白 . (2001). 论中庸理性:工具理性、价值理性和沟通理性之外. 社会学研究, 2, 33-48.
[13] 周懿瑾, 魏佳纯 . (2016). “点赞”还是“评论”?社交媒体使用行为对个人社会资本的影响——基于微信朋友圈使用行为的探索性研究. 新闻大学, 135(68), 68-75.
[14] Allison K. R., & Bussey K. , (2016). Cyber-bystanding in context: A review of the literature on witnesses' responses to cyberbullying. Children and Youth Services Review, 65, 183-194.
[15] Balakrishnan V. , (2015). Cyberbullying among young adults in malaysia: The roles of gender, age and internet frequency. Computers in Human Behavior, 46, 149-157.
[16] Balakrishnan V. , (2017). Unraveling the underlying factors sculpting cyberbullying behaviours among malaysian young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 75, 194-205.
[17] Balakrishnan V. , (2018). Actions, emotional reactions and cyberbullying - from the lens of bullies, victims, bully-victims and bystanders among malaysian young adults. Telematics and Informatics, 35(5), 1190-1200.
[18] Bandura A. , (1991). Social cognitive theory of self-regulation. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 248-287.
[19] Barlińska J., Szuster A., & Winiewski M . (2013). Cyberbullying among adolescent bystanders: Role of the communication medium, form of violence, and empathy. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 23(1), 37-51.
[20] Barrows J., Dunn S., & Lloyd C. A . (2013). Anxiety, self- efficacy, and college exam grades. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 1(3), 204-208.
[21] Barry C. M., & Wentzel K. R . (2006). Friend influence on prosocial behavior: the role of motivational factors and friendship characteristics. Developmental Psychology, 42(1), 153-163.
[22] Barsalou L. W . (1999). Perceptual symbol systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 577-660.
[23] Bastiaensens S., Vandebosch H., Poels K., Van Cleemput K., DeSmet A., & De Bourdeaudhuij I . (2014). Cyberbullying on social network sites. An experimental study into bystanders’ behavioural intentions to help the victim or reinforce the bully. Computers in Human Behavior, 31, 259-271.
[24] Bastiaensens S., Vandebosch H., Poels K., Van Cleemput K., DeSmet A., & De Bourdeaudhuij I . (2015). ‘Can I afford to help?’ how affordances of communication modalities guide bystanders’ helping intentions towards harassment on social network sites. Behaviour & Information Technology, 34(4), 425-435.
[25] Berenguer J . (2010). The effect of empathy in environmental moral reasoning. Environment and Behavior, 42(1), 110-134.
[26] Brewer G., & Kerslake J. , (2015). Cyberbullying, self-esteem, empathy and loneliness. Computers in Human Behavior, 48, 255-260.
[27] Brody N., & Vangelisti A. , (2015). Bystander intervention in cyberbullying. Communication Monographs, 83(1), 94-119.
[28] Bronfenbrenner U . (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Children & Youth Services Review, 2(4), 433-438.
[29] Cao B., & Lin W.-Y. , (2015). How do victims react to cyberbullying on social networking sites? The influence of previous cyberbullying victimization experiences. Computers in Human Behavior, 52, 458-465.
[30] Cardoos S. L., & Hinshaw S. P . (2011). Friendship as protection from peer victimization for girls with and without adhd. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39(7), 1035-1045.
[31] DeSmet A., Bastiaensens S., Van Cleemput C., Poels K., Vandebosch H., Cardon G., & De Bourdeaudhuij L . (2016). Deciding whether to look after them, to like it, or leave it: A multidimensional analysis of predictors of positive and negative bystander behavior in cyberbullying among adolescents. Computers in Human Behavior, 57, 398-415.
[32] Desmet A., Bastiaensens S., Van Cleemput K., Poels K., Vandebosch H., & De Bourdeaudhuij I . (2012). Mobilizing bystanders of cyberbullying: an exploratory study into behavioural determinants of defending the victim. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 181, 58-63.
[33] DeSmet A., Bastiaensens. S., Van Cleemput K.., Poels K., Vandebosch H., Deboutte G., … De Bourdeaudhuij I .,(2018). The efficacy of the friendly attac serious digital game to promote prosocial bystander behavior in cyberbullying among young adolescents: A cluster-randomized controlled trial. Computers in Human Behavior, 78, 336-347.
[34] DiFranzo D., Taylor S. H., Kazerooni F., Wherry O. D., & Bazarova N. N . (2018). Upstanding by design: Bystander intervention in cyberbullying. CHI Conference(pp.1-12).
[35] Dillon K. P., & Bushman B. J . (2015). Unresponsive or un-noticed?: Cyberbystander intervention in an experimental cyberbullying context. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 144-150.
[36] Dorit O.-S., Tali H., & Sigal E . (2017). Bystanders’ behavior in cyberbullying episodes: Active and passive patterns in the context of personal-socio-emotional factors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 32(1), 23-48.
[37] Eisenberg N., Fabes R. A., & Spinrad T. L . (2006). Prosocial development. In W. Damon, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.). Handbook of child psychology. Social, emotional, and personality development (Vol. 3, 6th ed., pp646-718). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
[38] Erreygers S., Pabian S., Vandebosch H., & Baillien E . (2016). Helping behavior among adolescent bystanders of cyberbullying: The role of impulsivity. Learning & Individual Differences, 48, 61-67.
[39] Estrada P . (1995). Adolescents' self-report of prosocial responses to friends and acquaintances: The role of sympathy-related cognitive, affective, and motivational processes. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 5(2), 173-200.
[40] Ferreira P. C., Simão A. M. V., Ferreira A., Souza S., & Francisco S . (2016). Student bystander behavior and cultural issues in cyberbullying: when actions speak louder than words. Computers in Human Behavior, 60, 301-311.
[41] Fishbein M., & Ajzen I. , (1975). Belief, attitude, intention and behavior: An introduction to theory and research. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.
[42] Freis S. D., & Gurung R. A. R . (2013). A facebook analysis of helping behavior in online bullying. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2(1), 11-19.
[43] Gahagan K., Vaterlaus J. M., & Frost L. R . (2016). College student cyberbullying on social networking sites: Conceptualization, prevalence, and perceived bystander responsibility. Computers in Human Behavior, 55(Part B), 1097-1105.
[44] Gallagher H. L., & Frith C. D . (2003). Functional imaging of ‘theory of mind’. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(2), 77-83.
[45] Holfeld B . (2014). Perceptions and attributions of bystanders to cyber bullying. Computers in Human Behavior, 38, 1-7.
[46] Hollenbaugh E. E., & Ferris A. L . (2014). Facebook self-disclosure: Examining the role of traits, social cohesion, and motives. Computers in Human Behavior, 30, 50-58.
[47] Huang Y.-y., & Chou C. , (2010). An analysis of multiple factors of cyberbullying among junior high school students in Taiwan. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(6), 1581-1590.
[48] Jones L. M., Mitchell K. J., & Turner H. A . (2015). Victim reports of bystander reactions to in-person and online peer harassment: A national survey of adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44(12), 2308-2320.
[49] Kowalski R. M., Giumetti G. W., Schroeder A. N., & Lattanner M. R . (2014). Bullying in the digital age: A critical review and meta-analysis of cyberbullying research among youth. Psychological Bulletin, 140(4), 1073-1137.
[50] Latan B., & Darley J. M . (1970). The unresponsive bystander: Why doesn’t he help? (pp. 1-67). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
[51] Lenhart A., Madden M., Smith A., Purcell K., & Zickuhr K . (2011). Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 25(12), 86.
[52] Machackova H., Dedkova L., & Mezulanikova K . (2015). Brief report: The bystander effect in cyberbullying incidents. Journal of Adolescence, 43, 96-99.
[53] Macháčková H., Dedkova L., Sevcikova A., & Cerna A . (2013). Bystanders' support of cyberbullied schoolmates. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 23(1), 25-36.
[54] McCrae R. R., & Costa Jr P. T . (1987). Validation of the five-factor model of personality across instruments and observers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(1), 81-90.
[55] Menesini E., Codecasa E., Benelli B., & Cowie H . (2003). Enhancing children's responsibility to take action against bullying: Evaluation of a befriending intervention in Italian middle schools. Aggressive Behavior, 29(1), 1-14.
[56] Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. (2018. Bystander. Retrieved September 27, 2018, from http://www.merriam-
[57] Moeller F. G., Barratt E. S., Dougherty D. M., Schmitz J. M., & Swann A. C . (2001). Psychiatric aspects of impulsivity. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 158(11), 1783-1793.
[58] Obermaier M., Fawzi N., & Koch T . (2014). Bystanding or standing by? How the number of bystanders affects the intention to intervene in cyberbullying. New Media & Society, 18(8), 1491-1507.
[59] Patterson L. J., Allan A., & Cross D . (2016). Adolescent bystanders' perspectives of aggression in the online versus school environments. Journal of Adolescence, 49, 60-67.
[60] Patterson L. J., Allan A., & Cross D . (2017). Adolescent perceptions of bystanders’ responses to cyberbullying. New Media and Society, 19(3), 366-383.
[61] Pozzoli T., & Gini G. , (2010). Active defending and passive bystanding behavior in bullying: The role of personal characteristics and perceived peer pressure. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(6), 815-827.
[62] Price D., Green D., Spears B., Scrimgeour M., Barnes A., Geer R., & Johnson B . (2014). A qualitative exploration of cyber-bystanders and moral engagement. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 24(1), 1-17.
[63] Quirk R., & Campbell M. , (2015). On standby? a comparison of online and offline witnesses to bullying and their bystander behaviour. Educational Psychology, 35(4), 430-448.
[64] Roskamp T. J . (2009). Cyberbullying in Illinois public schools. Dissertations & Theses - Gradworks.
[65] Schacter H. L., Greenberg S., & Juvonen J . (2016). Who's to blame?: the effects of victim disclosure on bystander reactions to cyberbullying. Computers in Human Behavior, 57, 115-121.
[66] Shultz E., Heilman R., & Hart K. J . (2014). Cyber-bullying: An exploration of bystander behavior and motivation. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 8(4), article 3.
[67] Slonje R., Smith P. K., & Frisén A . (2013). The nature of cyberbullying, and strategies for prevention. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(1), 26-32.
[68] Smith C. A., Organ D. W., & Near J. P . (1983). Organizational citizenship behavior: Its nature and antecedents. Journal of Applied Psychology, 68(4), 653-663.
[69] Song J., & Oh I. , (2018). Factors influencing bystanders' behavioral reactions in cyberbullying situations. Computers in Human Behavior, 78, 273-282.
[70] Stueve A., Dash K., O'Donnell L., Tehranifar P., Wilson-Simmons R., Slaby R. G., & Link B. G . (2006). Rethinking the bystander role in school violence prevention. Health promotion practice, 7(1), 117-124.
[71] Tangney J. P., Stuewig J., & Mashek D . (2007). Moral emotions and moral behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 345-372.
[72] Thornberg R., Tenenbaum L., Varjas K., Meyers J., Jungert T., & Vanegas G . (2012). Bystander motivation in bullying incidents: to intervene or not to intervene? The Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 13(3), 247-252.
[73] Van Cleemput K., Vandebosch H., & Pabian S . (2014). Personal characteristics and contextual factors that determine “helping,” “joining in,” and “doing nothing” when witnessing cyberbullying. Aggressive Behavior, 40(5), 383-396.
[74] Weber M., Ziegele M., & Schnauber A . (2013). Blaming the victim: the effects of extraversion and information disclosure on guilt attributions in cyberbullying. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(4), 254-259.
[75] Wikipedia. (2018). Bystander. Retrieved September 27, 2018, from
[76] Williams L. E., & Bargh J. A . (2008). Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Science, 322(5901), 606-607.
[77] Wong-Lo M., & Bullock L. M . (2014). Digital metamorphosis: examination of the bystander culture in cyberbullying. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 19(4), 418-422.
[1] CUI Jialei,CUI Liying. The confrontational response of women to gender prejudice between two identities[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2019, 27(6): 1085-1092.
[2] WANG Hongyu,CUI Zhisong,ZOU Chunlong,YU Jiali,ZHAO Di. Loyal or rebel? Employee bootleg innovation in Chinese context[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2019, 27(6): 975-989.
[3] WANG Xieshun,SU Yanjie. From motor imitation to social cognition: The role of self-other control[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2019, 27(4): 636-645.
[4] LI Wenqi, ZHANG Mengyuan, KOU Yu.  Political orientation and its changing mechanism[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2018, 26(3): 549-559.
[5] Shenlong YANG,Yongyu GUO,Feng YU,Tingting RAO,Liang ZHAO,Liying XU. Three explanatory perspectives on the root of system justification[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2018, 26(12): 2238-2248.
[6] YUE Tong, HUANG Xiting, LIU Guangyuan.  Sex-related differences in the effects of Oxytocin on human social cognition[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2017, 25(12): 2157-2167.
[7] Fan Wei; Zhong Yiping; Fu Xiaolan. The influence of self-control on deception[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2016, 24(7): 997-1008.
[8] PAN Wei; CHEN Wei; WANG Yin; SHAN Chun-lei. The myth of broken mirror theory of autism: Origins, problems and prospects[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2016, 24(6): 958-973.
[9] JIA Lei; ZHU Shurong; ZHANG Changjie; ZHANG Qinglin. The distributed semantic representation and activation processes of the implicit and explicit stereotypes: An examination based on the perspective of cognitive neuroscience[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2016, 24(10): 1519-1533.
[10] YANG Ying; KOU Yu. Individuals’ Well-Being in Prosocial Interaction: The Role of Autonomy[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2015, 23(7): 1226-1235.
[11] LIU Yan; GU Chuanhua. Interpersonal Sensitivity: From Social Cognition to Psychological Risk Factor[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2015, 23(3): 489-495.
[12] YANG Ziyan; LIU Yunzhi; YU Zhenkun; CAI Huajian. Applications of Implicit Association Test[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2015, 23(11): 1966-1980.
[13] WU Jinfeng; WANG Yu; CHEN Hong; HUANG Junfeng. From Self to Social Cognition: The Default Mode Network and Mirror-Neuron System[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2015, 23(10): 1808-1817.
[14] HUANG Jun; LI Ye; ZHANG Hongwei. The Application and Development of Construal Level Theory[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2015, 23(1): 110-119.
[15] FU Meiyun;MA Huawei;YUE Guoan. Bystanders in Workplace Bullying: Roles, Behaviors and Influence Mechanism[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2014, 22(6): 987-994.
Full text



Copyright © Advances in Psychological Science
Support by Beijing Magtech