You are what you read: The belief systems of cyber-bystanders on social networking sites

Nga Man LEUNG, Lok Yee Natalie WONG, JoAnn M. FARVER

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


The present study tested how exposure to two types of responses to a hypothetical simulated Facebook setting influenced cyber-bystanders' perceived control and normative beliefs using a 4 cyberbully-victim group (pure cyberbullies, non-involved, pure cyberbullied victims, and cyberbullied-victims) × 2 condition (offend vs. defend) experimental design. 203 Hong Kong Chinese secondary school and university students (132 females, 71 males; 12 to 28; M = 16.70; SD = 3.03 years old) were randomly assigned into one of two conditions. Results showed that participants' involvement in cyberbullying significantly related to their control beliefs about bully and victim assisting behaviors, while exposure to the two different conditions (offend vs. defend comments) was related to both their control and normative beliefs. In general, the defend condition promoted higher control beliefs to help the victims and promoted higher normative beliefs to help the victims. Regardless of their past involvement in cyberbullying and exposure to offend vs. defend conditions, both cyber-bullies and cyber-victims were more inclined to demonstrate normative beliefs to help victims than to assist bullies. These results have implications for examining environmental influences in predicting bystander behaviors in cyberbullying contexts, and for creating a positive environment to motivate adolescents to become "upstanders" in educational programs to combat cyberbullying. Copyright © 2018 Leung, Wong and Farver.
Original languageEnglish
Article number365
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018



Leung, A. N. M., Wong, N., & Farver, J. M. (2018). You are what you read: The belief systems of cyber-bystanders on social networking sites. Frontiers in Psychology, 9. Retrieved from


  • Cyberbullying
  • Cyber-bystanders
  • Helping behavior
  • Control beliefs
  • Normative belief about helping
  • Normative beliefs about aggression
  • Social networking sites