The association between in‐class cultural diversity with empathy and bullying in adolescence: A multilevel mediation analysis

Anja Schultze‐Krumbholz, Angela Ittel, Herbert Scheithauer
Published Online:
09 Jul 2020

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Little is known about the associations between cultural class composition, teacher support for diversity (TSD), cognitive and affective empathy, and bullying and victimisation. Research shows that empathy is negatively associated with bullying and victimisation; and support for diversity and classroom cultural diversity are positively linked to social skills. The present study examines whether cultural diversity and perceived TSD are protective factors against bullying and victimisation, either directly or mediated by empathy. Participants were 897 students from Grades 7 to 10 (Mage = 13.45, SDage = 1.07, 51.3% girls, 46.7% boys) in 36 classes. Multilevel mediation analyses were conducted. Age and gender were controlled for. More perceived TSD and affective empathy were associated with less bullying. Moreover, the effect of perceived TSD on bullying was partly indirect through affective empathy. Victimisation was not predicted by the study variables. The class level showed no effects. Bullying and victimisation are complex phenomena, which seem to be linked more to individual than to class characteristics. The result that higher perceived TSD was linked to empathy and bullying provides a promising starting point for measures of competence enhancement and bullying prevention.

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