Proximal Associations among Bullying, Mood, and Substance Use: A Daily Report Study

  • Jennifer A. Livingston
  • Jaye L. Derrick
  • Weijun Wang
  • Maria Testa
  • Amanda B. Nickerson
  • Dorothy L. Espelage
  • Kathleen E. Miller
Original Paper


Adolescent involvement in bullying as a victim or perpetrator has been associated with negative health outcomes, including emotional distress and substance use. Whether negative affect and substance use are acute responses to bullying involvement or whether they develop over time is unknown. Such knowledge is needed to understand the conditions under which bullying contributes to adverse outcomes, as well as to inform the development of appropriate interventions. This study examined the daily-level associations among bullying, negative affect, and substance use (i.e., alcohol, cigarettes, electronic-cigarettes, marijuana) among a community sample of adolescents (N = 204) ages 13–16 years (55% female, 81% European American, 13% African–American) who had reported bully victimization or perpetration in the past 6 months. Participants completed a brief on-line survey every day for 56 consecutive days, reporting on their experiences with bully victimization, bully perpetration, mood, and substance use for that day. Consistent with hypotheses, being bullied on a given day was associated with reporting greater than average levels of sadness (b= 0.279, 95% CI= [0.172, 0.387]), anger (b= 0.354, 95% CI= [0.242, 0.466]), and cigarette use (OR= 1.453, 95% CI= [1.006, 2.099]) on that day; however, it was not associated with alcohol, electronic-cigarette, or marijuana use. Perpetration was not associated with same day negative affect or substance use. Results of the current study suggest that negative affect and cigarette use may be acute responses to bully victimization. Bully perpetration does not appear to be proximally linked to mood or substance use after accounting for victimization.


Bullying Substance use Adolescent Daily report Emotion regulation 



This research was funded by R01 AA021169 awarded to J.A.L. by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The authors wish to thank Jennifer Haas, Cynthia Warthling, Ashley Rupp, and Carrie Pengelly for their assistance with data collection. We would also like to thank Denise Feda and James Zemer for their assistance with data management and two anonymous reviewers for their feedback on an earlier draft of the manuscript.

Author Contributions

J.A.L. designed and executed the study and wrote the manuscript. J.L.D. conducted the primary data analysis and wrote part of the results. W.W. assisted with the data analysis and wrote part of the results section. M.T. contributed to the design of the study and collaborated on the writing and editing of the final manuscript. A.B.N. and D.L.E. provided consultation on the design and execution of the study and contributed to writing and editing the final manuscript. K.E.M. contributed to the design and execution of the study and collaborated on the writing and editing of the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University at Buffalo, State University of New York Institutional Review Board and national research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent (from parents) and assent (from adolescents) was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer A. Livingston
    • 1
  • Jaye L. Derrick
    • 2
  • Weijun Wang
    • 1
  • Maria Testa
    • 1
  • Amanda B. Nickerson
    • 3
  • Dorothy L. Espelage
    • 4
  • Kathleen E. Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Institute on AddictionsUniversity at Buffalo, SUNYBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse PreventionUniversity at Buffalo, SUNYBuffaloUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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