This doctoral project supervised by professor Nicolay Gausel will deploy an emotion-theoretical perspective on social relations in order to explain how bullying – both the active and the passive form – among students in higher education is motivated by an emotional, social psychological dynamic that fulfils the need for acceptance and belongingness.
Our social relations provide us with the opportunity to have our psychological needs for acceptance and belongingness fulfilled. However, the very same social relations can deprive us of these needs through isolation and rejection. As felt rejection is among one of the most painful emotional experiences a human can feel, people typically go to great lengths to avoid threats to their social bonds – and through this, their psychological needs. Participants in social bonds can therefore be motivated to contribute to or even take the lead in antisocial behavior (such as bullying) in an attempt to secure immediate access to acceptance and belonginess from those around them. In other words, the aggressive, antisocial behavior can be understood as a social relation in which the bullying – both the active and the passive – is motivated by a strong need to be liked by others, to be accepted by others and to belong. This doctoral project will therefore argue that bullying – both the active and the passive form – is a social phenomenon motivated by the very same social psychological, emotional dynamic that fulfils the need for acceptance and the need to belong.
The candidate must have a master’s degree or equivalent within psychology, pedagogy or sociology. Other relevant health- and social educations will also be considered.