The influence of body posture of bullying victim selection

From victimization literature, it is known that victims are often selected because they display nonverbal signals that flag them as easy prey. With the established knowledge that bullies are driven by the urge to dominate, it stands to reason that nonverbal signals of submissiveness may flag individuals as ideal victims. This paper expands the bullying victimization literature by exploring the potential role of nonverbal behavior of victims, specifically their body posture. Participants watched video clips of groups with individuals posed in either dominant, neutral, or submissive posture. They wrote notes to specified actors and then made bullying victim selection judgments. The notes showed less supportive behavior toward male actors with submissive posture than toward those with neutral posture. Participants selected actors with submissive posture significantly more for victimization than actors with neutral or dominant posture. This finding was consistent for male and female groups, as well as for Asian and Caucasian groups. These findings suggest that submissive posture flags individuals for bullying and, for males, results in less supportiveness from peers.