Date of Award

Fall 12-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Eric Dahlen

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Melanie Leuty

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Ashley Batastini

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Richard Mohn

Committee Member 4 School



Prior research indicates that a number of dark personality traits (e.g., psychopathy and sadism) positively predict the perpetration of cyber aggression among emerging adults (e.g., Goodboy & Martin, 2015; Craker & March, 2016; Nocera & Dahlen, 2018); however, few studies have utilized psychometrically sound measures of cyber aggression developed for use with this population. Additionally, some traits that are theoretically relevant to cyber aggression (Koban, Stein, Eckhardt, & Ohler, 2018; Slonje & Smith, 2008; Varjas, Talley, Meyers, Parris, & Cutts, 2010) and have been useful predictors of other forms of aggression have received insufficient attention in the cyber aggression literature (e.g., trait aggressiveness, boredom proneness). In addition, the possible role of moral disengagement (i.e., a way for people who behave in conflict with their moral values to avoid guilt or shame; Renati, Berrone, & Zanetti, 2012) as a potential mediator of the relationships of various personality traits to cyber aggression perpetration has not received sufficient attention. In the present study, we recruited 404 emerging adult (age 18-29) volunteers living in the United States through Amazon’s MTurk. Workers completed an online survey assessing their use of electronic communication, psychopathic and sadistic personality traits, trait aggressiveness, boredom proneness, moral disengagement, and cyber aggression perpetration. Structural equation modeling tested whether psychopathic traits, sadistic traits, trait aggressiveness, and boredom proneness predicted cyber aggression perpetration and moral disengagement partially mediated these relationships. Sadism, anger, and moral disengagement predicted cyber aggression, and moral disengagement partially mediated the relationships between sadism and cyber aggression perpetration.