Predicting Online Aggression: The Net Bully, Net Power, and Net Importance Scales

Predicting Online Aggression: The Net Bully, Net Power, and Net Importance Scales

Guy Vitaglione
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJCBPL.2019010102
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This study develops and validates measures of traits and attitudes for predicting online aggression. Over 362 participants ranging from 18 to 71 years in age completed online surveys on their attitudes, feelings, and experiences regarding online interactions and activities, in addition to reporting on several pre-established personality tests and demographic information. Participants also reported their own engagement in a variety of antisocial and prosocial online behaviors. Respondents' positive attitudes and tendencies toward online bullying (the Net Bully scale) and feelings of power and control when online (the Net Power scale) predicted their aggressive online behaviors (the Hostile Net Behaviors scale). Conversely, feelings that online interactions and activities are personally important (the Net Importance scale) predicted prosocial online behaviors (the Net Friendly scale). The merit of these scales to serve future research on online aggression and bullying is discussed.
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In recent years, schools, companies, and government agencies have become increasingly alarmed about cyber-bullying, online privacy violations, and internet crimes (Duggan, 2017). School authorities and parents report young people engaging in harassment of classmates via emails, social networking sites, and internet forums (Hoffman, 2010; Sengupta, 2013). Companies and agencies have seen an increase in malicious online security breaches and criminal violations (Deutsch & Ax, 2014; Heilman, 2011; Marks, 2018; Nakashima, 2010). According to a 2009 CDC study, rates of cyber-bullying appear to be increasing annually (e.g., from 2000 to 2005, the rate increased 50%; David-Ferdon & Hertz, 2009). Over 40 U.S. states have enacted legislation outlawing cyber harassment (NCSL, 2013).

Little prior research has studied the specific attitude or personality factors that underlie a variety of online aggression. The research that has been done has focused primarily on situational or demographic variables related to online harassment and bullying (e.g., Williams, & Guerra, 2007; Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004a). This study had two goals: (1) to ascertain the relationship between personality traits, social attitudes, and aggressive online interactions, and (2) to develop scales that could serve as valid predictors of a person’s likelihood to engage in aggressive online activities.

Varieties of Online Aggression

This research uses the more general term “online aggression” to denote a variety of aggressive acts conveyed via electronic means, typically the internet (Olweus & Limber, 2018). Prior research, using the terms online harassment, cyberbullying, electronic bullying, and internet aggression, have found that such aggression commonly takes the form of insulting, demeaning, and humiliating messages and/or spreading malicious gossip over a variety of media, including email (e.g., Jones et al., 2013; Kowalski & Limber, 2007; Lenhart, 2007; Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004a), text messaging (Jones et al., 2013; Menesini, Nocentini, & Calussi, 2011; Raskaskaus & Stoltz 2007) defaming websites (Raskaskasus & Stoltz, 2007), instant messaging (Kowalski & Limber, 2007; Lenhart, 2007), and especially social networking, such as Facebook (David-Ferdon & Hertz, 2009; Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004a). Other methods include posting embarrassing pictures and videos of the victim (Kowalski & Limber, 2007; Menesini et al., 2011; Raskasus & Stoltz, 2007; Sugarman & Willoughby, 2013). Although less common, online physical threats, sexual harassment, and sexual predatory behaviors have also been reported (Maas et al., 2003; Jones et al., 2013; Palfrey, Sacco, Boyd, & DeBonis, 2009; Raskasus & Stoltz, 2007; Wolak et al., 2008).

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