Decision-making process underlying bystanders’ helping cyberbullying victims: A behavioral economic analysis of role of social discounting

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The goal of the present study was to examine a decision-making process underlying bystanders' helping cyberbullying victims from a behavioral economic perspective. In a novel social-discounting task that involved a hypothetical scenario in which participants encountered cyberbullying instances as a bystander, they rated their likelihood of helping cyberbullying victims versus taking no action. Several cyberbullying situations were presented in the vignettes of the task, in which the social distance to the victims ranged from the person who is emotionally closest to the participants to a mere acquaintance and participants were asked to imagine each situation. The vignettes also presented three levels of intensity of cyberbullying (mild, moderate, and severe). The results showed that the likelihood of helping victims (a) decreased as a hyperbolic function of the social distance to the victims, (b) was greater for participants who had a past experience of helping victims, (c) varied systematically as a function of the intensity of cyberbullying, (d) was significantly correlated with empathy toward victims, and (e) significantly predicted intention to help victims. These findings support the importance of the social-discounting process in bystanders’ decision to help victims as well as indicate the novel task possess some validity. Implications for developing effective interventions strategies and the utility of the present task as a research tool are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106157
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

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