The Role of Normative Beliefs About Aggression in the Relationship Between Empathy and Cyberbullying

Rebecca P. Ang, Xiang Li, Suzanne L. Seah

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The present study examined the relationship between empathy (affective and cognitive) and cyberbullying in a sample of 396 (male = 173, female = 219, and four did not report information on gender) school-going adolescents from Singapore (age ranging from 12 to 18 years). Both types of empathy were negatively associated with cyberbullying as expected, with affective empathy having a stronger association with cyberbullying. We also investigated the mediating and moderating role of normative beliefs about aggression in two pathways—the relationship between affective empathy and cyberbullying and the relationship between cognitive empathy and cyberbullying. Findings suggested that normative beliefs about aggression was a partial mediator and moderator in the affective empathy-beliefs-cyberbullying pathway but normative beliefs about aggression was neither a mediator nor moderator in the cognitive empathy-beliefs-cyberbullying pathway. Normative beliefs about aggression served as the mechanism partially accounting for the relationship between affective empathy and cyberbullying. Furthermore, the relation between affective empathy and cyberbullying was found to be stronger for those with higher levels of normative beliefs of aggression. Collectively, together with other studies, this research contributes to an increasing number of studies demonstrating a stronger association between low empathy (in particular, low affective empathy) and bullying, whether traditional bullying or cyberbullying in adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1138-1152
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescence
  • affective empathy
  • cognitive empathy
  • cyberbullying
  • normative beliefs about aggression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology

Cite this