At A Glance

One out of every five students reports being a victim of bullying behavior. Skye Wingate’s research focuses on how the many individuals who are victims process messages in bullying and cyberbullying context, process messages differently depending on the digital environment, and how this fundamental process is connected to individuals’ mental health. Whereas the bulk of bullying research focuses on the frequency of bullying, Wingate also examines and measures bullying severity and its effects alongside bullying frequency.


While the most common measure of bullying is frequency, research must also look at severity and intention to understand how these factors alter the ultimately negative effects of the action. Wingate believes that through collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches to research, researchers, parents, schools and children can better examine and understand bullying in order to mitigate its impact on mental health.

Wingate takes a message-centered communicative approach to studying bullying and mental health outcomes, an approach to bullying research that builds on her experience with experimental psychology. Her work examines the severity of bullying and frequency to understand mental health outcomes. Her findings indicate that the severity and intentionality behind bullying can not only be measured, but can predict negative mental health effects on bullying victims.

The study of bullying beyond frequency can be difficult to measure, however, Wingate’s recently published peer-reviewed journal article on the topic has led to a new line of research as it pertains to bullying. The research has a bearing on how counselors might approach the effects of bullying by more closely examining how the victim frames and appraises the intentionality and severity of the bullying they experience.

Previously, Wingate’s work investigated bullying messages, interpretations and depression outomes in students in third through eighth grade across four points in time. Wingate has also examined online communication’s impact on boosting belongingness and self-esteem after ostracization.

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You have to consider multiple perspectives [with bullying communication], the actual intention and the perception of it. But it’s clear to me that you can trust recollection more than one might think; memory isn’t perfect, but you’d be surprised how many respondents remember what was said to them in exact, quotable detail. Those severe attacks stuck with them, and it shows.

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    • Bullying
    • Interpersonal communication
    • Mediated communication
    • Social cognition

    Degrees, Institutions

    • Ph.D. in communication, University of California, Davis
    • M.S. in general/experimental psychology, Morehead State University
    • B.A. in psychology, University of Alabama