Stealth Assessment of Aggression and Bullying

Stealth Assessment of Aggression and Bullying

Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/979-8-3693-0568-3.ch009
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Game-based environments have been used with some frequency in an attempt to prevent or intervene in situations of aggression or bullying. However, far less research has been conducted regarding game-based assessment of these constructs, particularly when the goal is to assess these behaviors without drawing attention (stealth assessment). A review of the current literature points to only four game-based stealth assessments of aggression or bullying. This chapter will present the research on these four assessments. Although studies conducted on stealth assessment of aggression or bullying have been limited, results suggest that game-based environments (e.g., video games, computer games, cellphone apps) measure these constructs successfully, with results matching typical methodologies (e.g., self- or peer-report surveys).
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Aggression and bullying are social problems with serious effects for both victims and perpetrators. Aggression is behavior that intentionally harms another person (Krahé, 2013). Bullying, a type of aggressive behavior, is intentional, repeated, and involves an imbalance of power between the bully and the victim (Olweus, 1993). Regardless of its form (e.g., physical, verbal, relational, indirect, social), aggression is associated with concurrent and future challenges, including externalizing problems (e.g., ADHD; Campbell et al., 2006; Cleverly et al., 2012; Crick et al., 2006; Malti & Rubin, 2018), internalizing problems (e.g., depression, anxiety; Cleverly et al., 2012; Crick et al., 2006; Malti & Rubin, 2018), substance use (Doran et al., 2012; Malti & Rubin, 2018), and personality pathology features (Malti & Rubin, 2018; Sheehan et al., 2021).

Research on the correlates of bullying are also troubling, both for victims and perpetrators. Students who are bullied exhibit academic problems, including missing school (Banks, 2000; Rossen & Cowen, 2012), earning lower grades (Hoover & Oliver, 1996; Juvonen et al., 2011), and dropping out of school (Weinhold & Weinhold, 1998). Bullying victims are more likely to contemplate or complete suicide (Hawker & Boulton, 2000), and may also engage in harmful behaviors toward others; while there is no profile of a school attacker, the U.S. Secret Service found that most attackers were victims of bullying (National Threat Assessment Center, 2019). Perpetrators are also subject to negative outcomes. For example, bullies are more likely to be arrested and convicted of a crime later in life (Olweus, 1991).

Although more limited, research on the effects of bullying in adult populations also exists (e.g., Einarsen et al., 2020; Namie & Namie, 2021). For adults, being bullied in the workplace is associated with anxiety, sleep disruption, loss of concentration, somatic symptoms, depression, and changes in routine/behavior (Namie & Namie, 2021). Businesses in which bullying occurs experience increased turnover, lower workplace morale, decreased productivity and performance, and potential litigation (Einarsen et al., 2020). In short, aggression and bullying are associated with “all things negative—peer rejection, bullying/victimization, gang participation, school failure, psychopathology, sociopathy, partner/spouse abuse, and so on” (Malti & Rubin, 2018, p. 3). These associations are all the more concerning given the prevalence of aggression and bullying. A recent study suggests that about 17% of adolescents and 8% of adults in the United States report having at least 3 aggressive outbursts in a given year (Coccaro & Lee, 2020); similar statistics are provided in an international study (Sharma & Marimuthu, 2014). And a recent study of U.S. children and adolescents found that 22.7% were bullying victims, while 6.4% were perpetrators (Lebrun-Harris et al., 2019).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Tiered Intervention/Prevention: A system in which increasingly intensive services are provided based on client needs.

Bullying: A type of aggressive behavior that is intentional, repeated, and involves an imbalance of power between the bully and the victim.

Traditional Assessment Methods: Traditional assessment techniques for aggression and bullying, such as disciplinary counts (e.g., office referrals), rating scales, and direct observations.

Stealth Assessment: An unobtrusive assessment technique embedded within game-based environments.

Aggression: Behavior that intentionally harms another person.

Game-Based Environments: Video games, computer games, and cellphone apps.

Cyberbullying: Bullying that takes place through electronic forms of contact.

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