London: Bullying using
e-mails, texts or web-postings to abuse people is as common at the
workplace as 'conventional' bullying at schools, says a study.
The way cyberbullying influences both the victim and witnesses is
more hidden at the workplace, according to study on occupational
Christine Sprigg, Carolyn Axtell and Sam Farley of the University
of Sheffield, with Iain Coyne of Nottingham University, have shone
a new light on this relatively new phenomenon.
The study included three separate surveys among employees in
several universities in Britain, asking people about their
experiences of cyberbullying, according to a statement of
Sheffield and Nottingham Universities.
"We gave people a list of what can be classed as bullying, such as
being humiliated, ignored or gossiped about, and asked them if
they had faced such behaviour online and how often," said Coyne.
Of the 320 people who responded to the survey, around eight out of
10 had experienced one of the listed cyberbullying behaviours on
at least one occasion in the previous six months.
The results also showed 14 to 20 percent experienced them on at
least a weekly basis -- a similar rate to conventional bullying.
"Overall, those that had experienced cyberbullying tended to have
higher mental strain and lower job satisfaction," Coyne said.
"In one of our surveys, this effect was shown to be worse for
cyberbullying than for conventional bullying."
The research team also found that the impact of witnessing
cyberbullying was different than that seen for conventional
"In the research literature, people who witness conventional
bullying also show evidence of reduced wellbeing. However, in our
research this does not appear to be the case for the online
environment," Coyne said.
"Witnesses are much less affected. This might be because of the
remote nature of cyberspace -- perhaps people empathise less with
the victims," said Coyne.
These findings will be presented during the Economic and Social
Research Council's (ESRC) annual Festival of Social Science in