Research proposal

The topic I am about to talk in my research is about empathy and bullying. The research focuses on a certain group of people: bullies in schools. Bullying is commonly seen in school students. Bullies are often teenagers or preadolescents, and the victims are often weaker than the bullies. Do bullies have empathy for their victims? If not, do they bully others because of their lack of empathy? I think this is an important problem because in order to help eliminate bullying in school, we need to study the source of it. The topic of the class is empathy, and we have studied the cause of cruelty in social media, which is kind of similar to bullying. The reason of online cruelty is the absence of empathy. This makes me wonder if real life bullying is also caused by the absence of empathy. We also learn from Martin Hoffman’s “Empathy, Justice, and the Law” that the development of empathy can be divided into several stages. Do bullying behaviors occur in preadolescents caused by anomalies in their empathy development? The study of empathy in preadolescents is different from the study of empathy in adults, so I am going to study specifically on the empathy in preadolescent bullies.

Since I am studying empathy and bullying, the critical problem is going to be: How does empathy influence bullies? To answer this question, we need to firstly clarify the definition of empathy in this question. There are two kinds of empathy, cognitive empathy and affective empathy. I will have to analyze the effect of both types of empathy on bully. Because I am researching on preadolescents, I will have to specify my research sources on preadolescents. I need to study the empathy development of preadolescents and the possible anomalies during the development.

Potential scholarly sources:

Stavrinides, P., S. Georgiou, and V. Theofanous. “Bullying and Empathy: A Short-Term Longitudinal Investigation.” EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 30, no. 7, 2010., pp. 793-802doi:10.1080/01443410.2010.506004.

van Noorden, T. H., , J., Haselager, G. J., T., Cillessen, A. H., N., & Bukowski, W. M. (2015). “Empathy and involvement in bullying in children and adolescents: A systematic review”. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44(3), 637-657. doi:

Björkqvist, Kaj, Karin Österman, and Ari Kaukiainen. “Social Intelligence − Empathy = Aggression?” Aggression and Violent Behavior, vol. 5, no. 2, 2000., pp. 191-200 doi:10.1016/S1359-1789(98)00029-9.

Kokkinos, Constantinos M., and Eirini Kipritsi. “The Relationship between Bullying, Victimization, Trait Emotional Intelligence, Self-Efficacy and Empathy among Preadolescents.” Social Psychology of Education: An International Journal, vol. 15, no. 1, 2012., pp. 41-58doi:

Muñoz, Luna,C., Pamela Qualter, and Gemma Padgett. “Empathy and Bullying: Exploring the Influence of Callous-Unemotional Traits.” Child psychiatry and human development, vol. 42, no. 2, 2011., pp. 183-96 doi:

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