The Effects of Cyberbullying Victimization on Psychological Adjustments Among College Students
thesisposted on 2016-02-25, 00:00 authored by Hyunjoo Na
Background: Between 4% and 30% of the youth in the U.S. reported having been cyberbullied. Additionally, 55.3% of college students reported being victims of cyberbullying at least once in their lifetime. Victims of cyberbullying have a higher level of depression and anxiety than those not experiencing cyberbullying, and they have low self-esteem. Purposes: The purposes of this study were to examine the influence of cognitive appraisals, coping strategies, and perceived social supports on psychological adjustments among cyberbullying victims and to examine the relationships between primary cognitive appraisals and coping strategies using a model guided by the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping. Methods: The study used a cross-sectional design for 121 University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) undergraduate students between 18 and 25 years old who have experienced cyberbullying victimization in the last 12 months. Study participants completed self-report questionnaires. Data were analyzed suing multiple linear regressions and path analyses. Results: Study results indicate that victims of cyberbullying who had increased perception of threat cognitive appraisal and used internalizing coping strategy more frequently were more likely to report an increased level of depression. In addition, victims of cyberbullying who more frequently used internalizing coping strategy were more likely to report increased levels of anxiety. Victims of cyberbullying who had increased perception of threat cognitive appraisal were more likely to use problem solving, seeking social support, and internalizing coping strategies and that those who had increased perception of control cognitive appraisal were more likely to use seeking social support coping strategy. Cyberbullying victimization only indirectly affects levels of depression and anxiety. Challenge and threat cognitive appraisals and externalizing and internalizing coping strategies mediated the relationship between cyberbullying victimization and depression and anxiety. Conclusion: The study findings expand our knowledge of which cyberbullying victims are at risk of depression and anxiety and of how and why some victims develop depression and anxiety. Health care professionals and researchers can use the findings to develop interventions to help cyberbullying victims manage the resulting depression and anxiety through the mediation paths of cognitive appraisals and coping strategies identified in this study.