Development and Validation of the Bullied Cognitions Inventory (BCI)
Graham B., Ehlers A.
Background: Bullying increases risk of social anxiety and can produce symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to cognitive models, these are maintained by unhelpful beliefs, which are therefore assessed and targeted in cognitive therapy. This paper describes psychometric validation of a new measure of beliefs related to bullying experiences. Methods: In an online survey of 1879 young people before starting university or college in the UK, 1279 reported a history of bullying (N = 1279), and 854 rated their agreement with beliefs about self and others related to bullying experiences and completed symptom measures of social anxiety and PTSD related to bullying. An empirical structure for a Bullied Cognitions Inventory was established using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses and assessed using model fit statistics and tests of reliability and validity. Results: Fifteen items clustered into four themes: “degraded in the eyes of others”, “negative interpretations of reactions to bullying”, “recognisable as a bullying victim” and “social defeat”. The measure has acceptable reliability and validity and, accounting for existing cognitive measures, explained additional variance in symptoms of PTSD but not social anxiety. Conclusions: The Bullied Cognitions Inventory (BCI) is a valid and reliable tool for measuring cognitions related to bullying. It may be useful in therapy for identifying and monitoring unhelpful cognitions in those who were bullied.