Passive bullies do not take the lead, they are non-initiating; instead they follow the lead of an aggressor or aggressors. The word social contagion has been used for this phenomenon. “A group of passive bullies is likely to be fairly mixed and may also contain insecure and anxious students” (Olweus 1973a and 1978).
Passive bullies can become involved in bullying a victim by a mechanism called “weakening of the control or inhibitions against aggressive tendencies” (Olweus, 1993, p. 44). This principle is described as being rewarded by a victory over the victim that can cause one’s inhibitions to decrease (et a1).
Another factor that could contribute to explain why usually kind and non-aggressive students engage in bullying without any apparent remorse is a “decreased sense of individual responsibility” (O1weus, 1993, p. 44). This phenomenon could be explained by a resulting diffusion (dilution) of responsibility through group action.
Repeated aggressive acts against the victim will over time chance the passive bully’s perception of the victim who will begin to be seen as a worthless person (et al).