355 Personality & Cyberbullying

Research by Goodboy, A. K., & Martin, M. M. (2015).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S.

Since the majority of youth have access to social media via cell phones or the internet, cyberbullying is problematic. What makes anyone want to bully another? Do cyberbullies have common traits like face to face bullies?

West Virginia University researchers examined the “Dark” personality traits of Machiavellianism (or individuals who strategically manipulate others), psychopathy (impulsive behavior and lacking empathy), and narcissism (feeling better than others) in relation to cyberbullying. The researchers studied whether each trait related to cyberbullying. However, they also wanted to know which traits could uniquely predict cyberbullying.

Over 200 undergraduate students between the age of 18 and 40 took a short measure to assess whether any had traits of Machiavellianism, psychopathy or narcissism. Then they completed a measure self-reporting any cyberbullying acts they did over the last year. 

Results? Those that rated high on cyberbullying, scored high on all three traits. Psychopathy was the only trait that could uniquely predict the occurrence of cyberbullying. Evidently, those who score high on psychopathy need no provocation to elicit their bullying.

Teachers and professionals focusing on those who score high on these traits, especially psychopathy, can lead to efforts to reduce cyberbullying.


Goodboy, A. K., & Martin, M. M. (2015). The personality profile of a cyberbully: Examining the Dark Triad. Computer in Human Behavior, 49, 1-4.

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