Academic journal article Journal of Behavioural Sciences

Dark Triad Personality Traits as Predictors of Bullying and Victimization in Adolescents

Academic journal article Journal of Behavioural Sciences

Dark Triad Personality Traits as Predictors of Bullying and Victimization in Adolescents

Article excerpt

Bullying is a universal problem, specially, for school students. Almost 40% of adolescents have been reported to be involved in bullying all over the world (Baughman, Dearing, Giammarco, & Vernon, 2012; Fanti & Kimonis, 2013). In Pakistan 19.6% to 24.1% of school students have been observed to be involved in bullying either as bully, a victim, or bully-victim (Shujja, Atta, & Shujjat, 2014).

Bullying is a form of behavior of a stronger individual or group intended to harm a weaker person frequently and in different ways (Baughman et al., 2012; Orpinas & Horne, 2006; Parada, 2000). Olweus (1993) distinguished bullying into indirect and direct form as direct bullying includes more or less open attack on the target, such as, words, signals, facial expression, or bodily contact like pushing, shoving, pinching, hitting and kicking and indirect form of bullying include less observable and hidden attacks such as deliberate barring from a peer group and social isolation (Crick et al., 2001). Victimization is facing the aggressive behavior of more powerful person or group. The victimized students usually have low self-esteem and are also anxious, insecure, and cautious. These students hardly defend themselves when faced by bullies (Arsenio & Lemerise, 2001).

Whether an individual assumes the role of bully or victim is influenced by number of factors, including interpersonal and environmental factors (Caravita, Di Blasio, & Salmivalli, 2009). Cognitive and social empathy theories have also been used to explain why some bullies display antisocial behaviors though they score well on tests of social intelligence (Ang & Goh, 2010). These studies have encouraged the researchers to investigate the bullies' personality traits. More recently, negative aspects of personality known as dark triads have been studied to play their role in development of bullying behavior (Arefi, 2013; Linton & Power, 2013; Baughman et al., 2012; Wei & Chen, 2012; Muñoz, Qualter & Padgett, 2011; Kerig & Stellwagen, 2010).

Dark triads include three socially undesirable traits, machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy. Machiavellianism is a tendency to deceive and manipulate others in social situations for personal interest (Baughman et al., 2012). Narcissism is a personality trait that possesses characteristics of grandness, self-love, and exaggerated view of one-self (Paulhus & Williams, 2002). Psychopathy refers to tendency to be impulsive, non-empathetic, and to be involved in anti-social activities (Neumann & Hare, 2008).

To start with machiavellianism, it has been reported that adolescents with high level of this trait lack sympathy for others (Sutton & Keogh, 2000) and are more likely to harass others (Peeters, Cillessen, & Scholte, 2010), though, in a study by Jones and Paulhus (2009) it was not found to be much related to outright aggression. School children with this trait have been observed to use indirect means to bully other children, e.g., they spread rumors to tease others (Sutton & Keogh, 2000). Earlier it was thought that machiavellians do not have ability to empathize which makes them very cruel to others (Sutton, Smith, & Swettenham, 1999). However, their skill to manipulate others to get their personal gains without using direct aggression might be due to their deeper understanding of how people react in different situations. With this understanding and without having emotional empathy they behave ruthlessly with others. Sutton and Keogh (2000) proposed that machiavellians have high cognitive empathy that indicates their ability to anticipate and describe the behaviors of others and thus, their ability to control others in social situations. Mostly children involved in indirect aggression also report high cognitive empathy and have lower pro-social behavior that suggest that some bullies use this cognitive ability to engage in successful acts of manipulation in social groups (Renouf et al. …

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