At A Glance

Social media, gaming and other online communications have benefits, but when these platforms are used to bully others, people young and old can feel they are unable to escape bullying behavior. Kowalski studies how bullying and cyberbullying overlap, what motivates this behavior and what parents and educators can do to mitigate the negative effects of bullying and cyberbullying.


Kowalski’s research focuses primarily on aversive interpersonal behaviors, most notably complaining, teasing and bullying, with a particular focus on cyberbullying. She has helped reveal that cyberbullying, while often thought of as a behavior that young people engage in, is also prevalent in the workplace. Kowalski’s research across developmental stages focuses on how cyberbullying is similar to and different from traditional bullying, and she has drilled down into prevalence rates of the behavior, as well as outcomes such as anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, job turnover and poor grades in school.

Her research on complaining has helped audiences across the nation unpack this behavior. She has examined why people complain and different types of complaints, and her research has revealed the most effective ways to complain as well as advice on how to deal with chronic complainers.

In addition, Kowalski has revealed a practical use for regret and hindsight through her research. Her findings in this area has been featured in media outlets nationally. Kowalski’s results have been truly revealing about the nature of regret, how people can use it to self-actualize and what areas people tend to fixate on in their later years.

She is the author or co-author of several books including “Complaining, Teasing, and Other Annoying Behaviors,” “Social Anxiety,” “Aversive Interpersonal Behaviors,” “Behaving Badly,” “The Social Psychology of Emotional and Behavioral Problems” and “Cyberbullying: Bullying in the Digital Age.”

The Princeton Review named Kowalski as one of the best 300 professors in the nation, and she was selected as a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 South Carolina Governor’s Professor of the Year Awards.

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In short: Yes, it’s good to complain, yes, it’s bad to complain, and yes, there’s a right way to do it.

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    • Cyberbullying
    • Complaining, its function, its consequences and the types of people inclined to complain
    • K-12, college, and mass shootings
    • Aversive interpersonal behaviors
    • Practical uses for regret and hindsight

    Degrees, Institutions

    • Ph.D. in social psychology, University of North Carolina – Greensboro
    • M.A. in psychology, Wake Forest University
    • B.A. in psychology, Furman University