Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists

Psychology Today,
By Jennifer Golbeck, Ph.D.

A new study shows that internet trolls really are just terrible human beings.

In this month’s issue of Personality and Individual Differences, a study was published that confirms what we all suspected: Internet trolls are horrible people.

Let’s start by getting our definitions straight: An Internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, in fact, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.

What kind of person would do this? Some Canadian researchers decided to find out.

They conducted two online studies with over 1,200 people, giving personality tests to each subject along with a survey about their Internet commenting behavior. They were looking for evidence that linked trolling with the “Dark Tetrad” of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism.

They found that Dark Tetrad scores were highest among people who said trolling was their favorite Internet activity. To get an idea of how much more prevalent these traits were among Internet trolls, see this figure from the paper:

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Read more:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-online-secrets/201409/internet-trolls-are-narcissists-psychopaths-and-sadists


 

(Let’s start by getting our definitions straight: An Internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, in fact, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.)