About Internet Trolls

I've been on the internet for a relatively short time, about three years, but the troll has always interested me not by what they do, but by why they do it. I've often stated that those who lead in politics, corporations and non-governmental organizations are mostly psychopaths. As such, I've done a lot of reading and studying about them and how to identify them. As it turns out, the trolls on the internet are also psychopaths, some are intelligent and others are just sadistic. A new scientific study from the University of Manitoba has come out and you might chuckle to yourself as you reflect on the trolls in your life as you read the article. So true, amirite?


Online trolls have serious personality issues such as Machiavellianism, one of the biggest studies into trolling has found.

Researchers say that online commenters display traits that are Narcissistic, psychopathic, and sadistic and the worse the problems, the longer the person spent online.

They found the most common trait was to exhibit sadistic behaviour.

To identify the trolls, researchers even developed a simple online test.

'Respondents completed personality inventories and a survey of their Internet commenting styles,' the team at the University of Manitoba said.

Their research was, conducted by Erin Buckels and two colleagues.

They define online trolling as 'the practice of behaving in a deceptive, destructive, or disruptive manner in a social setting on the Internet with no apparent instrumental purpose.'

The researchers say: 'Overall, strong positive associations emerged among online commenting frequency, trolling enjoyment, and troll identity, pointing to a common construct underlying the measures,' they said.

They said the trolls displayed what is known as the 'Dark Tetrad' of personality in two tests developed.

'Both studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores.

'Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior. 

'Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism. 

'Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.'

Two tests were developed.

One asked survey participants what they 'enjoyed doing most' when on online comment sites, offering five options: 'debating issues that are important to you,' 'chatting with others,' 'making new friends,' 'trolling others,' and 'other.' 

It found only 5.6 percent of survey respondents actually enjoyed 'trolling.' 

'Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others,' the team wrote. 

'Sadists just want to have fun ... and the Internet is their playground!'

Uploaded 02/15/2014
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