Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 815–827 | Cite as

Active Defending and Passive Bystanding Behavior in Bullying: The Role of Personal Characteristics and Perceived Peer Pressure

  • Tiziana PozzoliEmail author
  • Gianluca Gini


This study examined the role of pro-victim attitudes, personal responsibility, coping responses to observations of bullying, and perceived peer normative pressure in explaining defending the victim and passive bystanding behavior in bullying. A total of 462 Italian early adolescents (mean age = 13.4 years, SD = 9 months) participated in the study. The behaviors were measured through two informants: each individual student and the teachers. The findings of a series of hierarchical regressions showed that, regardless of the informant, problem solving coping strategies and perceived peer normative pressure for intervention were positively associated with active help towards a bullied peer and negatively related to passivity. In contrast, distancing strategies were positively associated with passive bystanding, whereas they were negatively associated with teacher-reported defending behavior. Moreover, self-reported defending behavior was positively associated with personal responsibility for intervention, but only under conditions of low perceived peer pressure. Finally, the perception of peer pressure for intervention buffered the negative influence of distancing on passive bystanding tendencies. Future directions are discussed.


Participant roles in bullying Coping responses Personal responsibility Attitudes Perceived peer pressure 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental and Social PsychologyUniversity of PaduaPadovaItaly

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