Why Do Japanese Bully More than Americans? Influence of External Locus of Control and Student Attitudes Toward Bullying

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Emiko Kobayashi
David P. Farrington

Keywords

Japan-U.S. comparison • student bullying • external locus of control • student attitudes toward bullying • ijime

Abstract

It is widely accepted that Japanese, compared to Americans, commit fewer criminal and other forms of deviant acts. However, there is evidence that Japanese students have an unusually high prevalence of bullying. In the current study, we develop a rationale for predicting that Japanese students, relative to Americans, should be oriented more strongly toward an external locus of control and have more favorable attitudes toward bullying, which, in turn, might explain why student bullying is more prevalent in Japan than in the U.S. Analyses of comparable survey data from college students in Japan (N = 584) and the U.S. (N = 623) provide generally supportive evidence for our predictions. In agreement with expectations, Japanese students committed more bullying acts during their high school days than Americans. Further, Japanese students were oriented more strongly toward an external locus of control and had more favorable attitudes toward bullying. After controlling for both an external locus of control and student attitudes toward bullying, the initially significant difference between the two samples in student bullying disappeared. We discuss the utility of comparative research to increase our understanding of cross-national differences in student bullying. We suggest that longitudinal comparative data on an external locus of control and student attitudes toward bullying, both of which reflect individual cognitive orientations, are an important resource for further development of school intervention programs around the world.

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Abstract 273