Cyberbullying is an increasingly common experience that produces psychosocial consequences for targets. Interventions encouraging bystanders to support targets of cyberbullying are limited by a lack of focus on what to communicate. This study considers supportive messages that emphasize emotional comfort, attributions of responsibility, and beliefs that people can change as relevant to this context, and it examines how perceptions of messages differ based on whether support providers have or lack experience with cyberbullying. We extend research on the indirect effects model of supportive communication by randomly assigning participants (N= 304), who self-identify as targets of cyberbullying, to message and source conditions and assessing their perceptions of messages, providers, and outcomes. Impressions of messages mediate their influence on outcomes, and the experiential similarity of support providers moderates these effects. Certain messages, notably those contending that bullies can change, are less effective when delivered by sources who lack experience with bullying.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics