MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

Differences in the early stages of social information processing for adolescents involved in bullying

, ,

Aggressive Behavior

Published online on


Bullying victimization has commonly been associated with deficiencies in social information processing (SIP). In contrast, findings regarding bullying perpetration are mixed, with some researchers claiming that bullies may have superior SIP abilities than victimized or uninvolved youth. This study investigated the effects of bullying and victimization on early SIP; specifically the recognition and interpretation of social information. In stage 1, 2,782 adolescents (11–16 years) were screened for bullying involvement, and in stage 2, 723 of these participants (mean age = 13.95) were assessed on measures of emotion recognition, hostile attribution bias, and characterological self‐blame (CSB). No associations between bullying and early SIP were found. In contrast, victimization was associated with more hostile attribution bias and CSB attributions. Girls performed better than boys on the emotion recognition task while boys showed greater hostile attribution biases. No interaction effects of bullying or victimization with gender were found. Follow‐up categorical analyses that considered pure victims versus victims who also bullied (bully‐victims) on SIP, found a similar pattern of findings. These findings suggest that those who purely bully others are neither superior nor deficient in the early stages of SIP. Victimized adolescents, however, show biases in their interpretations of social situations and the intentions of others. These biases may lead to maladaptive responses and may increase risk for further victimization by peers.