Banter versus bullying: a university student perspective

Buglass, S.L. ORCID: 0000-0002-1079-8461, Abell, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-6230-8551, Betts, L.R. ORCID: 0000-0002-6147-8089, Hill, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-2938-8825 and Saunders, J., 2020. Banter versus bullying: a university student perspective. International Journal of Bullying Prevention. ISSN 2523-3653

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Banter, a form of social communication, is perceived to enhance social cohesion between friends in online and offline contexts. A fine line between banter and bullying behaviours exists however, with some instances of banter perceived as bullying, cyberbullying, and relational aggression. Two qualitative studies explored university students’ understanding and experiences of banter. Study 1 reports the findings from a content analysis of open-ended survey responses obtained from 190 UK-based psychology undergraduate students (18–35 years; 24 male, 166 female). Results suggested that students perceived banter to be indicative of humorous, positively intentioned social exchanges between friends, with few inferring potential links to negative behaviours. Study 2 data was generated from four focus groups (n = 21; 18–26 years; 15 female, 5 male, and 1 non-binary) guided by semi-structured interviews and banter/bullying vignettes. Interpretative phenomenological analysis identified four key themes: characteristics, social context, intent, and self-preservation. Discussions highlighted how students’ evaluations of banter were more complex than the results of study 1 had inferred. Students differentiate social interactions, using numerous verbal and text-based communication cues, and social rules of engagement to appraise and interpret intent. The study contributes to the currently sparse literature concerning university students’ use and experience of banter in offline and digital settings.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: International Journal of Bullying Prevention
Creators: Buglass, S.L., Abell, L., Betts, L.R., Hill, R. and Saunders, J.
Publisher: Springer
Date: 20 November 2020
ISSN: 2523-3653
Rights: ©The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jeremy Silvester
Date Added: 20 Jan 2021 11:44
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:07

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