Working Towards the Development of an Online Intervention for Cyberaggression Behaviours: A Research Focus on Perpetrators’ Motivational Factors

Howman, Hannah Elizabeth (2023) Working Towards the Development of an Online Intervention for Cyberaggression Behaviours: A Research Focus on Perpetrators’ Motivational Factors. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Background: Advancements in digital technologies have seen computer-mediated communication (CMC) become an integral part of modern culture. However, the emergence of CMC coincided with the ‘online disinhibition effect’, where people engage in social interactions online, with their behavioural inhibitions lowered. This has led to people engaging in cyberaggression behaviours, including cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and trolling, where people can partake in these behaviours due to a variety of motivational factors. However, research has demonstrated conflicting views of whether cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and trolling are three distinct behaviours, or whether they can be operationalised together under the term ‘cyberaggression’.

Aims: The thesis had two aims. The first was to investigate a selection of motivational factors which could influence adult (18+ years) perpetrators’ cyberaggression behaviours. If cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and trolling had the same contributing factors, this would offer support for research studying motivational factors to operationalise the terms together as cyberaggression. However, if they had distinct contributing factors, this would suggest they should be operationalised separately to enable research to continue investigating how the same motivational factors can contribute to perpetrators’ engagement in different cyberaggression behaviours. The second aim was to develop the basis of an online intervention that could help reduce adult perpetrators’ engagement with cyberaggression behaviours. This involved identifying key features to be included in the intervention to address the motivational factors underlying these behaviours.

Research Chapters (3–7): To address these aims a variety of research was conducted. In Chapter 3 a systematic review was conducted to identify which motivational factors are being addressed in current intervention and prevention strategies. In Chapter 4 qualitative surveys using open-ended questions were conducted to explore participants’ current perceptions of cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and trolling, including how they define the behaviours and the factors they think motivate perpetrators’ engagement with these behaviours. In Chapter 5 two surveys using questionnaires were conducted to examine how a selection of motivational factors contributed to participants’ cyberaggression behaviours. In Chapter 6 text-based scenarios were used to investigate how participants’ processing of moral transgressions could influence their engagement with cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and trolling. Finally, in Chapter 7 online interviews were conducted to explore what key features people wanted to see implemented in an online intervention to combat the motivational factors discussed in the thesis.

Conclusions: Findings from Chapter 4 suggested that participants perceived cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and trolling as having different motivational factors, with results from Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 demonstrating that whilst the behaviours had some mutual contributing factors, there were also factors distinct to only one or two of the behaviours. Therefore, it was recommended that research examining motivational factors should operationalise cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and trolling separately, rather than operationalising them together as cyberaggression. Regarding the online intervention, findings from Chapter 3 highlighted that the majority of intervention and prevention strategies are conducted in-person, and tend to focus on a small subset of motivational factors which can contribute to perpetrators’ cyberbullying behaviours. Thus, an online intervention was proposed where the key features included ‘Profiling’, ‘Education’, ‘Victim Impact’, ‘Mental Health Support’, and ‘Online Community’. This intervention could be tailored towards different cyberaggression behaviours, and the motivational factors influencing each user’s engagement with these behaviours. Hence, the thesis has presented an online intervention for cyberaggression which can be taken to the next stage of development.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Filik, Ruth
van Heuven, Walter
Keywords: digital technologies, Cyberaggression, Cyberbullying, Cyberstalking, Trolling, online disinhibition effect
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 76103
Depositing User: Howman, Hannah
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2023 04:40
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2023 04:40

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