Using the theory of planned behaviour to understand cyberbullying: The importance of beliefs for developing interventions

Sara Pabian*, Heidi Vandebosch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This paper starts from the observation that research on cyberbullying perpetration has paid relatively little attention to proximal determinants of this behaviour. It therefore tests the value of a model that departs from variables representing the beliefs underlying the central concepts of the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) to explain cyberbullying intention and behaviour. The data stem from a longitudinal study amongst 1606 students (11-17 years). A SEM analysis reveals that these beliefs account for respectively 88.8%, 38.2% and 24.6% of the variance in subjective norm (SN), perceived behavioural control (PBC) and attitude (A). The direct measurements of SN, A and PBC account for 28.8% of the variance of the intention to cyberbully, and intention, in turn, explains 8.6% of the reported behaviour six months later. We conclude that the model provides a detailed insight into the relative importance of several proximal determinants of cyberbullying, which benefits future cyberbullying interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-477
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cyberbullying
  • Proximal determinants
  • Theory of planned behaviour
  • Beliefs
  • Perpetrators
  • RISK
  • PEER

Cite this