Coping and psychological distress as a function of the bully victim dichotomy in older children

Tony Cassidy*, Laura Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


While it has been well established that bullying and being bullied have negative psychological consequences for children, the more recent literature has suggested a more complex relationship based on social cognition. A debate has arisen as to whether bullies have deficits or strengths in social cognition. In a study of 236 children (112 males and 124 females) aged between 12 and 15 years the current research explored three main aspects of social cognition, problem-solving style, perceived control and optimism in both bullies and victims. The findings suggest that the debate may hinge on whether the bullies are also victims. In this study bullies had higher scores on problem-solving control while bully victims had the lowest scores. These variations corresponded to differences in psychological distress suggesting that bullies may have developed more effective coping strategies with the reverse being true for bully victims.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-262
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Psychology of Education
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • bully
  • victim
  • problem-solving style
  • psychological distress
  • optimism
  • perceived control


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