People who feel disgusted with themselves are more likely to suffer mental health issues as a result of being targeted by cyberbullies.
This is the finding of research carried out by Dr Lambros Lazuras, Dr Antonia Ypsilanti and their student Nicholas Butler at Sheffield Hallam University to be presented today, Thursday 2nd May, at the British Psychological Society annual conference.
The researchers explored the relationship between cyberbullying, feelings of self-disgust and health outcomes in a sample of 126 young adults.
Cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon that has developed as internet use and the popularity of social media rise, and represents a major threat to the health and well-being of young people having been associated with social isolation, suicidal thoughts, and a wide range of other mental health issues.
The way that people experience cyberbullying is a largely unexplored area, but the researchers at Sheffield Hallam were able to show that people who were more likely to feel victimised online, and have been a victim of cyberbullying, also experienced higher feelings of self-disgust.
They also demonstrated that the link between being a victim of cyberbullying and suffering from depression and anxiety, sleep problems, and symptoms of physical illness, can be explained by these feelings of self-disgust.
Dr Lambros Lazuras said: ‘We already know that cyberbullying has a negative impact on young people’s physical and mental health, but our study shines a new light on one important factor in this process.
‘Self-disgust can exacerbate the impact of cyberbullying on the victim, and those working in support services should look to address how victims feel about themselves when supporting people who have been targeted online.’
The British Psychological Society Annual Conference takes place from 1st–2nd May 2019 at the Harrogate Convention Centre. For details of the programme, click here.