Social Competition and Bullying: An Adaptive Socioecological Perspective

Part of the Evolutionary Psychology book series (EVOLPSYCH)


Bullying directly and negatively impacts millions of people across the globe each year. Bullying has traditionally been studied from perspectives other than social psychology, even though bullying is an inherently social behavior. We therefore suggest studying bullying using an adaptive ecological framework that highlights how individual and social factors interact to promote or influence bullying, particularly under conditions of high competition. Drawing inspiration from Bronfenbrenner’s (The ecology of human development: experiments by nature and design, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2009) socioecological theory, we examine individual facts as well as an expanding ring of social factors from the immediate environment, to the neighborhood, to the broader culture, to determine how and when bullying is influenced by various social factors, and how individuals respond adaptively to these social factors. We include data on animal bullying and social factors, as well as final conclusions and recommendations for future research.


Bullying Socioecological theory Ecology Evolution Culture Competition 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Child and Youth StudiesBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

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