Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Surprise, Surprise: Trolling Linked to Psychopathy, Sadism

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 11:05 AM

click to enlarge Respondents' favorite activities when posting comments online indicated a positive correlation between trolling and the "Dark Tetrad" or personality disorders. - E.E. BUCKELS ET AL, "TROLLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN," PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES, 2014.
  • E.E. Buckels et al, "Trolls just want to have fun," Personality and Individual Differences, 2014.
  • Respondents' favorite activities when posting comments online indicated a positive correlation between trolling and the "Dark Tetrad" or personality disorders.


Your not-so-friendly blog and social media troll might be more than just a contrarian. 

According to a study, "Trolls just want to have fun," published in Personality and Individual Differences, "strong positive associations emerged" between trolling behavior and the so-called "Dark Tetrad" of personality, which includes sadism, psychopathy, narcissism and manipulative tendencies. 

That's another way of saying that trolls aren't there to vent or be obnoxious—they may actually take pleasure from your pain. 

The study, conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba, included 1,215 respondents and most strongly associated trolling with sadism. Other Internet behaviors like chatting and debating were not associated with personality disorders. 

Buckels' study revealed that just 5.6 percent of respondents specifically said they enjoyed trolling, but methods used to curb that behavior on online fora aren't realistic.

"Because the behaviors are intrinsically motivating for sadists, comment moderators will likely have a difficult time curbing trolling with punishments (e.g., banning users)," Buckels told Slate writer Chris Mooney in an email.  "Ultimately, the allure of trolling may be too strong for sadists, who presumably have limited opportunities to express their sadistic interests in a socially-desirable manner."


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