Date of Award

December 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Edward A. Mabry

Committee Members

Lindsay Timmerman, John Jordan, Nancy Burrell, Mike Allen


Bullying, Communication, Cyberbullying, Prosocial, Technology, Video Games


This study sought to further our understanding of the role of cyberbullying in the cooperative team-based game Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2). A sample of 41 4-person groups generated a total n = 415 messages used for evaluating the behavioral content of game play. Four hypotheses were advanced assessing cyberbullying behavior and game outcome (success vs. failure), group cohesion, target participation, and perceptions of bullies. Out of the 41 groups 25 groups had cyberbullying behavior present and 16 groups had prosocial behavior. Overall, cyberbullying behavior had little effect on game outcome, group cohesion and target participation. Groups using only prosocial messages were more successful than groups with cyberbullying messages and had a significantly better survival score when prosocial messages occurred late in the game. Additionally, cyberbullying behavior and prosocial behavior increased a sense of belonging compared to groups where cyberbullying occurred earlier in the game. Furthermore, the amount of cyberbullying in groups generated no effect on target participation. Finally, players considered leaders influence the game more than non-leaders and players identified as both leader and cyberbully generate no effect on game influence compared to players not identified as both cyberbully and leader. Results are discussed in terms of study limitations and possible conceptual and operational applications.

Included in

Communication Commons