McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Thaimi Fina

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Major and Classification

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

  • Stephen Madigan, Ph.D.

Department

  • Psychology

McNair Project

Some Wounds Never Heal: A Gender-Specific Analysis of Bullying Effects

Bullying is a serious form of harassment that negatively affects victims long after the incident occurs. Victims can suffer from a lifetime of loneliness, depression, and low self-esteem (Olweus 1978). This study aims to provide a deeper understanding of bullying effects by integrating a gender-specific analysis. The current study investigated what type of bullying (direct physical, direct verbal, or indirect) was most detrimental to the self-esteem and depression levels of male and female victims. An online survey was disseminated to adults, aged 18 to 25. Participants were asked to reflect on a bullying incident that occurred in middle school (grades 6 through 8). Reflection prompts were used to elicit incident-specific emotional responses. Scores on the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and the Beck Depression Inventory-II were correlated with detailed questions regarding a specific bullying incident. Results indicated that bullying conditions were not significantly correlated with self-esteem and depression. In contrast, negative affect was significantly correlated with self-esteem and depression (p < .01). High depression scores were strangely correlated with high self-esteem scores (p < .01). These abnormal results were labeled a product of defensive self-esteem. These findings may contribute to the development of more effective, empirically-based anti-bullying programs.