U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Impact of Definition and Question Order on the Prevalence of Bullying Victimization Using Student Self-Reports

NCJ Number
Psychological Assessment Volume: 27 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2015 Pages: 1484-1493
F. L. Huang; D. G. Cornell
Date Published
December 2015
10 pages
This study presents findings from two randomized experiments designed to determine (a) the impact of using or not using a definition of bullying and (b) asking about general versus specific types of bullying victimization and how the order of these questions affects victimization-prevalence rates.
Accurate measurement is essential to determining the prevalence of bullying and evaluating the effectiveness of intervention efforts. The most common measurement approach is through anonymous self-report surveys, but previous studies have suggested that students do not adhere to standard definitions of bullying and may be influenced by the order of questions about types of victimization. The study involved a sample of 17,301 students attending 119 high schools. Findings indicate that the use of a definition of bullying had no impact on prevalence rates, but asking specific bullying-victimization questions (e.g., "I have been verbally bullied at school") prior to general bullying-victimization questions (e.g., "I have been bullied at school"), resulted in a 29-76 percent increase in victimization prevalence rates. Results suggest that surveys that ask general-to-specific bullying-victimization questions, such as those found in national and international surveys, may be underreporting bullying victimization. (Publisher abstract modified)