Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Dionne Stephens

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Asia Eaton

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Bethany Reeb-Sutherland

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Yu Liu

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Online Aggression, Anonymity, Social Modeling, Emerging Adults, Religiosity, Political Ideology, Cyberbullying, Cyberdisinhibition

Date of Defense



This dissertation investigated online aggression in emerging adults to understand the contextual power of anonymity and social modeling. Emerging adults are characterized as undergoing a period of identity exploration, instability, self-focus, transition, and possibility (Arnett, 2004). Given the importance of identity development at this stage of the lifespan, this research explored religiosity/spirituality and political ideology; two pivotal belief systems that are introspectively evaluated and molded in emerging adults as they separate their identities from their world views (Barry & Nelson, 2004). Furthermore, this dissertation sought to apply religiosity/spirituality and political ideology to the previously established link of anonymity and social modeling and their joined impact on online aggression (Zimmerman & Ybarra, 2016). Behavioral temptation to aggress and participant responses following interaction on a mock blog was recorded and analyzed in situations of anonymity and positive or neutral social models. Aggressive social modeling influenced blog posts and behavioral temptation to aggress. Religiosity/spirituality and political attitudes moderated aggression in blog posts.





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