UAB „Dileksima“, Sporto ir sveikatingumo centras „Hermis“
Savanorių pr. 404, LT-50300 Kaunas
Vytauto Didžiojo universitetas
K. Donelaičio g. 52, LT-44244 Kaunas
Bullying is one of the most severe problems that exist among adolescents. The studies on bullying in Lithuania and abroad reveal a large number of children who become the victims of bullying (Camodeca, Goossens, 2005; Möller, Alldahl, Hallqvist, 2002; Zaborskis, Cirtautienė, Žemaitienė, 2005). The problem is already acknowledged in our society, yet not enough attention is paid to its solution. There is a great need to understand the phenomenon in order to prevent it. One way of doing this is to analyze relations between bullying and different characteristics of bullying situation, bully/victim and bullies.
In this study the researchers’ attention was focused on the possible links between bullying and locus of control. Though in literature information about the relations of those two phenomena is scarce, the results of some studies allow assuming that relations between bullying and locus of control can exist. Björkqvist and colleagues (1999) found that external locus of control significantly relates to physical, verbal and indirect aggression, while Andreou (2000) detected that external locus of control can be a strong characteristic of bully/victim, when internal locus of control can characterize those who don’t involve themselves in bullying and never have been bullied by others. Sandstrom and Coie (1999) conducted the study which revealed strong relation between locus of control and group rejection – those children who have external locus of control are often rejected by the group.
In summary, such results allow making an assumption that bullying can associate to the person’s perception of his ability to control the environment, i.e. to his/her locus of control.
Therefore the aim of this research was to evaluate the links between bullying and locus of control among the adolescents at the age of 16–18 years. The research participants were 185 high school students (79 boys and 106 girls). Two research methods were used: locus of control questionnaire (Rotter, 1966) and bullying questionnaire composed by Povilaitis and Valiukevičiūtė (2006) with their permission to use the questionnaire in the research. Locus of control scale’s (Cronbach a = 0.50) higher expression indicates external locus of control, lower – internal locus of control. In the data analyses all participants were divided into three groups depending on the expression of their locus of control scale. Those with the scale number higher than one standard deviation from scale mean of the group were ascribed to external locus of control group; those with the scale number lower than one standard deviation from scale mean of the group were ascribed to internal locus of control group; the main analysis was conducted between those two groups of participants, while data of the rest of the group was not used in the analysis. Bullying questionnaire consisted of two main scales – bullying experience scale (measuring different aspect of how bully/victim experience others bullying) and bullying scale (measuring different aspects of bullies’ behavior) which was divided in two subscales – physical and emotional bullying scales. Internal consistency analysis indicates that the scales can be used for group assessments of bullying among adolescents (bullying experience scale Cronbach α = 0.91; bullying scale Cronbach α = 0.86; physical bullying scale Cronbach α = 0.84; emotional bullying scale Cronbach α = 0.72).
The results of the research revealed that boys and girls differ significantly according to bulling behavior and experience: boys tend to be bullied by others more than girls (p = 0.055), besides, they use more bullying behavior (p = 0.0001) towards others as well. Analysis of links between bullying and locus of control revealed bullying differences among adolescents’ groups with internal and external locus of control – those with external locus of control had grater experience of being bullied by others (p = 0.023) and bullying themselves (p = 0.038) than those adolescents who have internal locus of control. Besides, external locus of control was more related to emotional (p = 0.033) and physical (p = 0.064) bullying which means that adolescents having external locus of control were more abusive emotionally and physically towards others than adolescents with internal locus of control. Nevertheless, a question was raised if the same relations will be found in male and female groups. So the same analysis was made separately in boys’ and girls’ groups which showed very interesting results – the links between the bullying and the locus of control was found only among adolescent boys but not among girls. Boys with external locus of control had grater experience of being bullied by others (p = 0.013) and bullying themselves (p = 0.010) than boys with internal locus of control. Besides, those boys were more abusive emotionally (p = 0.005) and physically (p = 0.026) towards others than boys having internal locus of control.
The results of the study correspond to the findings of other authors. External locus of control was found to be associated with physical and emotional bullying behavior which fits well with the results of Björkqvist and colleagues (1999) who found significant relation among external locus of control and physical, verbal and indirect aggression. After all, bullying behavior can be described as “…such negative actions, may be physical, verbal or psychological, they are intentional in nature, and usually involve a real or perceived imbalance in strength/power” (Camodeca, Goossens, Terwogt, Schuengel, 2002), which means aggressive behavior. Besides, research results show that external locus of control associates with being bullied as well which support Andreou (2000) findings that external locus of control is more prevalent among bully/victims. Such results can be explained by the nature of locus of control. As external locus of control can be described by the person’s disposition to attribute events in his life to external circumstances, it can be suggested that a person with such disposition can lack the sense of security and consequently can behave in some manner demonstrating his own weakness and attracting aggressors or s/he can be willing to defend himself/herself by attacking others. Nevertheless, it was interesting that such results were found only in male adolescents group but not in female. We can hypothesize that because of faster biological and psychological maturation girls adapt more constructive ways to cope with stress related to the sense of not being able to control one’s life than boys.
Keywords: bullying, locus of control.