SAS senior and AP Research + Catalyst student, Avinash Ashok, has spent the year working on his research paper topic titled "The single, faulty light in the darkness: A correlational study relating individualism to cyberbullying."

The abstract for his paper is as follows (written by Avinash himself): In recent years, a significant amount of research has been conducted to identify the various causes of cyberbullying, which include gender, ethnicity, and level of education (Betts, 2017; Edwards, Kontostathis, and Fisher, 2016; Zhou et al., 2013).

Two other possible causes of cyberbullying have emerged: individualism, the habit of acting and thinking independently of others, and collectivism, the habit of acting and thinking interdependently.

In previous studies, individualism and collectivism have also been found to relate to factors such as gender, ethnicity, and education level, suggesting that individualism and collectivism are primary reasons for high rates of cyberbullying. Despite this supposition, little research has investigated the direct relationship between individualism and cyberbullying in collectivistic countries, thereby leaving a crucial gap in the research pool.

In this quantitative correlational study conducted on students aged 17 to 18 years (n=284) from five local schools in Singapore, I explored how one’s level of individualism and collectivism related to their level of cyberbullying victimization and perpetration. As hypothesized, findings suggest that local high school students who are more individualistic are more likely to be victims of cyberbullying (p<0.01) while students who are more collectivistic are more likely to be perpetrators (p<0.01).

These findings have severe implications for Singaporean students. The polarization of individualism and collectivism in local schools likely increases students’ chances of being cyberbullied or being perpetrators of cyberbullying, a possible reason why Singapore has the second highest cyberbullying rate in the world (Hu et al., 2016; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2015; Wright et al., 2015). Thus, Singapore’s mindset towards individualism and collectivism within the educational system needs to change to promote a sense of togetherness and social responsibility. Further research should be conducted in a longitudinal manner, observing a fixed number of people over their lifetimes in order to determine how individualism develops over time and how a change in individualism-collectivism affects their likelihood of taking part in or falling victim to cyberbullying.

Avinash will be presenting his topic on April 25, 9:15 to 9:45 in the High School Center of Innovation. If the topic of the correlation between cyberbullying and individualistic people interest you, come check it out!

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