In Surprise to No One Who Has Written for the Internet, Science Reveals Online Trolls Are Real-Life Sadists

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In Surprise to No One Who Has Written for the Internet, Science Reveals Online Trolls Are Real-Life Sadists

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | February 16, 2014 | Comments ()


This doesn’t apply to anyone in our lovely community, of course (except you Craug), but according to a new research paper, trolls are really just as bad in real-life as they are online. From Slate:

The research, conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues, sought to directly investigate whether people who engage in 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).

It is hard to underplay the results: The study found correlations, sometimes quite significant, between these traits and trolling behavior. What’s more, it also found a relationship between all Dark Tetrad traits (except for narcissism) and the overall time that an individual spent, per day, commenting on the Internet.

Even more damning was that the finding between trolling and sadism is the strongest:

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,” they wrote. “Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”

That actually explains so much, especially — in my experience elsewhere — how much glee some commenters get in shredding apart authors, often in the most personal ways imaginable. I would not be surprised, based on the misogyny evidence in most trolling comments, if most of those sadist trolls were also sadistic men.

The other reality, however, is this: Trolls are a small minority not only of Internet commenters, but of the overall online community (most people do not comment at all). It’s a comforting thought, actually, knowing that those who seek to belittle online authors do it for their own sick sense of pleasure because they get an emotional high out of making us question our life’s choices.

It also explains TK — who began as a commenter here — and why he gets so much joy out of seeing all of you suffer (full disclosure: I also find joy in watching TK make you suffer).

Source: Slate via Dan Carlson

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Jezzer

    What I do isn't trolling. It's sharing Very Important Facts about how the things you love are wrong. :3

  • Stephen Nein


    (kiss-kiss, darling!)

  • malechai

    I'm a social media strategist. One of the hardest things I do is - not managing trolls when they pop out from under their bridges onto my feeds - but convincing clients that there just isn't some magical combination of words n' phrases to convince hateful instigators to 'see the light'.

    All of my clients are well-intentioned and ethical. It's hard for them to not take stuff said against their brands or non-profits personally. Most of them don't even know what a "troll" is. I'll keep this post handy for future reference.

  • Ofir Fishkin

    makes sense,especially misogyny. i don't think people who call skyler white a bitch can treat their mothers,sisters, girlfriends and other women in their life like human beings

  • emmalita

    Making you the biggest troll of all, because you also enjoy watching TK suffer. (We all enjoy watching TK suffer).

  • LaineyBobainey

    TK needs to suffer more. Is there a "donate" button on here we can click JUST for that. I will pay money to make TK suffer more.

  • emmalita

    You will have your revenge for the mustard assault on Valentine's Day!

  • TK is ASKIN' FER IT.

  • If he didn't drink so much and dress like THAT, he might have been able to say "no" to Mercy Rule.

    The reviewer body, it has ways of shutting that stuff down.

    /sarcasm, juuuust in case.

  • Jezzer

    Better make your sarcasm tag more noticeable. The comment section has gotten a lot tetchier ever since Dustin stopped spraying for special snowflakes.

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