Social advantages and disadvantages associated with cyber aggression-victimization

According to Schoffstall and Cohen (2011), cyber aggression is defined as behaviour committed with the intent to harm an individual, using a computer, cell phone or other electronic devices. In addition, the authors nuanced that the behaviour must be perceived as aversive by the victim. Cyber victimization is like cyber aggression but includes in its definition the essential aspect of an individual’s power over others (Schoffstall & Cohen, 2011; Volk, Dane & Marini, 2014). In recent years, due to the increase in cybercrimes and thus cyber victims, several studies have focused on cases of cyber victimizations. Still, few have focused on cyber aggression as such or the relationship between both.

This is why researchers Lapierre and Dane (2020) decided to focus this article on these two issues from an evolutionary perspective. Specifically, two objectives are targeted: 1) Identify groups of cyber aggression-victimization status using proactive and reactive cyber aggression and cyber victimization as indicators; 2) examine whether the cyber aggression and cyber victimization status groups have social advantages or disadvantages similar to those of traditional aggression research.

To do this, 400 teenagers between the age of 12 and 18 years filled out a questionnaire. Within the questionnaire, participants answered questions related to the frequency of their use of technology and whether they had ever been victims or witnessed cyber aggression or cyber victimization.

After analyzing the questionnaires, the researchers obtained the following findings:

  • 79.4% of adolescents were not involved at all in these two issues, both on the side of the victims and the aggressors, but 13.1% were cyber aggressors-victims mixed (moderate proactive and reactive cyber aggression and cyber victimization)
  • 7.4% were very reactive cyber aggressors-victims (moderate cyber aggression and cyber victimization, but very reactive for cyber aggression).
  • Just as evolutionary theory and aggression research suggest, mixed cyber aggressors-victims reported more social dominance, dating partners. In addition, highly responsive cyber victims reported more sexual partners than their peers who said they were not involved in either of the two issues under study. In contrast, highly reactive cyber victims reported more anxiety in intimacy and less implicit social power than mixed and uninvolved groups. This assumption is in line with the literature cited by the authors, asserting that reactive aggression is more strongly linked to social disadvantage and less strongly linked to social advantages, unlike proactive aggression.

To conclude, the authors discuss the advantage of using an evolutionary theory even in a new context, such as cyber aggression and cyber victimization issues.

To cite: Lapierre, K. R. & Dane, A.V. (2020). Social advantages and disadvantages associated with cyber aggression-victimization: A latent class analysis, Computers in Human Behavior, 113.