Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2018


Experiencing bullying victimization can lead to detrimental damage to a child’s life potential, reduced long-term contributions to society, and in severe cases, to suicide or desperate acts of defensive aggression, such as school shootings. The current study aimed to examine risk factors that may increase the vulnerability of a child to become a target of bullying victimization and the related consequences of victimization, using rigorous neuropsychological and EEG measures. The end-goal is to translate these findings into a program of preventive intervention increasing the child’s resilience and improving social culture among youth in the academic environment. We propose a two-component novel model for examining child-victim characteristics: Trait Signatures, as crystalized, long-term neurobehavioral and brain neurophysiology (EEG) markers and State Signatures, the psychological, somatic, and cognitive acute consequences of bullying victimization. Results from 16 Children-Victim (VC) and 16 non-exposed to bullying, Control Children (CC), ages 6-17 are presented. Our key findings in VC as compared to CC show: In Trait Signatures significantly higher scores on measures of anxiety and compulsivity, significantly reduced skills in visual-spatial perception and attention, but no significant group differences in oscillatory brain activity (alpha power) during visual cognitive tasks demanding top-down inhibitory control of response. In State Signaturessignificantly higher levels of depressive moods, significantly reduced visuospatial memory and visually mediated conceptualization, and a significantly higher rate of life-long traumatic experiences, including bullying victimization. Our findings implicate a prime significance of emotional-social difficulties in VC that may impact visual cognitive proficiency in complex social problem-solving interactions. The identified emotional-social-cognitive composite of difficulties in VC must be addressed in future studies and in prospective programs of prevention.

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Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Kristina R. Ciesielski, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Bruce Smith, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Julia Stephen, Ph.D.

Fourth Committee Member

Steve Verney, Ph.D.


Bullying, Children, Neuropscyhology, EEG

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Included in

Psychology Commons