Robert Thornberg is a Professor of Education at the Department of Behavioural Sciences, Linköping University. He earned his Ph.D. in Educational Research 2006. His current research is on school bullying, especially with a focus on social and moral processes involved in bullying, bystander rationales, reactions and actions, and students' perspectives and explanations.

His second line of research is on values education including morals, norms, and student participation in everyday school life. A third line of research is on teacher education, especially student teachers' motives to become a teacher and their experiences of distressed situations during teacher training. Thornberg uses a range of research methods including qualitative interviews and focus groups, questionnaires and psychometric scales, ethnographic fieldwork, cross-sectional and longitudinal designs, grounded theory, and statistical methods."

Areas of Expertise

Risk and protective factors associated with school bullying

Social psychology of school bullying

Moral agency and disengagement in relation to school bullying and the bystander position in school bullying

Students’ perceptions of why bullying happens and why different bystander actions take place 

Values education in everyday school life

Grounded theory and its constructivist turn

Research Interests

Bullying and bystander behaviours, and their associations with individual and collective moral disengagement, self-efficacy, collective efficacy, and moral emotions

Bullying and moral reasoning

Bullying and bystander behaviours, and their associations with classroom climate, with a particular focus on teacher-student relationships and student-student relationships

Motivational factors associated with defender, passive bystander, and pro-bully behaviour when witnessing bullying

The social interaction patterns of school bullying, normative discourses, and social constructions of the involved students

Students’ perspectives on and explanations of bullying and different bystander behaviours in bullying

Teachers’ and student teachers’ perspectives on values education

Emotional distressful learning situations at teacher and medical education

Students’ perceptions of school rules




Research networks 

  • Nordic Educational Research Association (Board Member)
  • Bullying Research Network (BRNET)
  • The NERA Network 7: Value Issues and Social Relations in Education (Convenor)
  • Swedish Educational Research AssociationFriends nationella nätverk för mobbningsforskare
  • Children’s Identity and Citizenship in EuropeNationellt nätverk for forskning om barns och ungas rättigheter i utbildning 



  • Member of the Doctoral Educational Board of the Faculty of Educational Sciences, Linköping University
  • International research faculty member of the Center for Research on School Safety, School Climate and Classroom Management, at the College of Education, Georgia State University, Atlanta, U.S.
  • Board member of the Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA)
  • Member of the Editor Board of the journal Nordic Studies in Education
  • Coordinator for the NERA Network of Value Issues and Social Relations in Education


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