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Psychologists: Internet Trolls Are Narcissistic, Psychopathic, and Sadistic 293

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-related-news-psychologists-have-had-many-pizzas-sent-to-their-house dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Chris Mooney reports at Slate that research conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba confirmed that people who engage in internet trolling are characterized by personality traits that fall in the so-called Dark Tetrad: Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others). In the study, trolls were identified in a variety of ways. One was by simply asking 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.' The study recruited participants from Amazon's Mechanical Turk website and two measures of sadistic personality were administered (PDF): the Short Sadistic Impulse Scale and the Varieties of Sadistic Tendencies Scale. Only 5.6 percent of survey respondents actually specified that they enjoyed 'trolling.' By contrast, 41.3 percent of Internet users were 'non-commenters,' meaning they didn't like engaging online at all. So trolls are, as has often been suspected, a minority of online commenters, and an even smaller minority of overall Internet users. Overall, the authors found that the relationship between sadism and trolling was the strongest, and that indeed, sadists appear to troll because they find it pleasurable. 'Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun ... and the Internet is their playground!' The study comes as websites are increasingly weighing steps to rein in trollish behavior but the study authors aren't sure that fix is a realistic one. 'Because the behaviors are intrinsically motivating for sadists, comment moderators will likely have a difficult time curbing trolling with punishments (e.g., banning users),' says Buckels. '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.' Perhaps posting rights should only be unlocked if you pass a test."
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Psychologists: Internet Trolls Are Narcissistic, Psychopathic, and Sadistic

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  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @03:02PM (#46255423) Journal
    All it took was couple of regular guys to take the bait and post a couple of replies, and the trolls get another lease of life, almost like cockroaches getting one lick at the spilled grain of sugar and living for the next six months. Now the trolls get their own academic study and serious professors in horn rimmed glasses and slightly rumpled suits with food stains are going to discuss the trolls... No point in pleading "don't feed the trolls". They have just achieved immortality.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @03:06PM (#46255445) Journal

    '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.'

    All we need to do is to create opportunities for the sadists to torture people in real life, and they will leave our precious internet alone.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @03:08PM (#46255457) Journal
    Sadists are a misunderstood and marginalized segment of society. Can you imagine growing up as a sadist? How would you tell your parents? They would say, "oh, you're just trying to be mean." They don't understand that this is how you were born. They would say, "oh, you just need to be with a girl, get married, and she will soften you more." It is unacceptable to force sadists into the narrow confines of society's expectations. It is time for sadists and trolls everywhere to come out of the closet and stand for who they are.
  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @03:14PM (#46255485) Journal

    In regards to the article I hate to say

    Boy, those guys at Microsoft sure know how to make great software. The fact is no other browser at work displays content right like IE 6. It is the best browser! Infact, the W3C is implementing things IE 6 had for years like rich text controls and displaying the box model ... the RIGHT WAY!

    Also I have to tell you McAffee and Norton are soo great and a real pleasure to use for the best OS in the world. Nothing makes me all in the mood when I have to see the pleasure of seeing a scan pop up during a lovely reboot but these wonderful products.

    In addition, FSF are a bunch of radical socialists from the Obama administration out to destroy your freedom. Just look at GCC and how RMS's radical views on commercial software made sure these tools can never be included in another program like kdevelop or Netbeans. I actually do not write software but think I know everything and like to chat crap from other people so I can laugh at all the responses HAHAH.

    This is why only BSD is the only true license etc and only vi should be used to read any licensing terms. Anyone who disagree's is an idiot, socialist, Obama voter, and needs to have lots of replies here and go waaay offtopic.


    Patrick Bateman.

  • by Teun (17872) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @03:16PM (#46255495) Homepage

    such as the poor speling or grammars of the postes that your are replying to

    Was that on purpose?

    Are you on the receiving end of spelling trolls? :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2014 @03:25PM (#46255545)


    Hillary is now a Democrat.

  • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @03:27PM (#46255555)

    I will contend that a majority of persistent "trolls" would not necessarily answer on a survey that they enjoy trolling.

    You make a lot of great points. I would add -- internet "trolling" is often the result of an anonymous or pseudonymous environment, where you are held less accountable for your actions. It's like the people who are happy to lay on the horn in their car or aggressively tailgate someone (or slow down to "teach someone a lesson"), but they would never randomly scream at someone who was walking too slow on the street or cut in front of them on a sidewalk and start walking slowly. Anonymity changes behavior.

    I'd say that anyone capable of aggressive anonymous driving behavior (which seems to be a LOT of folks, perhaps the majority of people at some point, depending on stress level) is also capable of trolling on the internet.

    Those people who actually self-identify as "trolls" in such a study are probably primarily either real outliers or people who actually aren't really trolls all the time, but found it amusing to select such a non-conformist choice (see your average Slashdot poll). Thus, the data may also be skewed by people who aren't primarily trolls but have other personality traits that led them to make an unusual choice in an internet poll.

  • by DiamondGeezer (872237) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @03:38PM (#46255611) Homepage

    Its time to give sadists a fair crack of the whip!

  • by Ardyvee (2447206) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @03:48PM (#46255641)

    I'd give you a cookie, except I'm not sure you deserve it.

    Can you please calibrate my sarcasm detector?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2014 @03:48PM (#46255643)
    What the fuck did you just fucking say about me, you little bitch? I'll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals, and I've been involved in numerous secret raids on Al-Quaeda, and I have over 300 confirmed kills. I am trained in gorilla warfare and I'm the top sniper in the entire US armed forces. You are nothing to me but just another target. I will wipe you the fuck out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my fucking words. You think you can get away with saying that shit to me over the Internet? Think again, fucker. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of spies across the USA and your IP is being traced right now so you better prepare for the storm, maggot. The storm that wipes out the pathetic little thing you call your life. You're fucking dead, kid. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can kill you in over seven hundred ways, and that's just with my bare hands. Not only am I extensively trained in unarmed combat, but I have access to the entire arsenal of the United States Marine Corps and I will use it to its full extent to wipe your miserable ass off the face of the continent, you little shit. If only you could have known what unholy retribution your little âoecleverâ comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your fucking tongue. But you couldn't, you didn't, and now you're paying the price, you goddamn idiot. I will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it. You're fucking dead, kiddo.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @04:02PM (#46255723) Journal

    Can you please calibrate my sarcasm detector?

    Are you asking whether you've been trolled or not?

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @04:12PM (#46255755)

    Trolls enjoy it if you react to them. If you talk TO them.

    They hate it if you talk ABOUT them while ignoring them entirely, treating them like the lab rats they should be.

  • by russotto (537200) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @04:17PM (#46255785) Journal

    Sadistic - I just did a lecture on whale-hunting. First-person POV, with the intention of making people angry, sick and upset in order to ram home the message about how awful that is to do to animals, especially a self-aware one with all those extra miles of pain circuits to deal with, and knowledge of what is happening to it.

    A one-man show of Moby Dick is NOT a lecture on whale hunting. It is quite sadistic though.

  • by taustin (171655) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @04:22PM (#46255819) Homepage Journal

    (5) "Troll" is lingo --- you may have people who enjoy trolling, who have absolutely no idea what the word 'Troll' means.

    And, generally speaking, what it really means is "someone who says something that I don't like." I wonder if this study even bothered to define the term, and if so, if it's a measurable definition.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @04:28PM (#46255849) Journal
    Furthermore, I would suggest the only ones motivated enough to go through all that effort to post would be trolls, psychopaths and sadists.
  • by similar_name (1164087) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @04:38PM (#46255911)
    For once, this may actually be on topic. Still a troll, but not off topic.
  • by tragedy (27079) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @04:42PM (#46255937)

    The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping.

  • by mozumder (178398) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @06:31PM (#46256571)

    You mistake is assuming that class divisions exist because of tyranny. It actually exists because of choice.

    We have a government that takes away from the rich and give to the poor because the rich and poor are both there by choice.

    The rich desire to be rich, which is fine, and we create a government that allows them to be rich by taxing them more as they gain more wealth. We use the taxes to pay for the services they need to become rich, such as education (need to make sure their employees can speak english and follow math instructions), roads (need to make sure their company goods can be transported), the military (need to protect their resources), patents (need to allow them a monopoly on their ideas), and basically every single function of government.

    It is government that allows one to be wealthy.

    Don't believe me?

    Take away a function of government, and see how much it damages the wealthy.

    That includes things like all social services (unemployment, health care, retirement, etc..) that you mistakenly assume benefit the lazy, but actually exist because it benefits the wealthy.

    Really, the precious snowflake libertarians exist because they are ignorant of the overall system. It is amusing when we liberal statists watch these precious snowflake libertarians talk about their rights and freedoms and other dumb retarded shit we feed them to work harder, when we know exactly why they are mistaken and laugh at them.

    These idiots actually think the money they earned is because of their hard work. LOL.

    They have no idea about the Matrix we liberal statists built for them.

    You're welcome.

...when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. - Fred Brooks, Jr.