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News: Internet Trolls Are Really Horrible People

 
 
Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2014 05:32 pm
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/climate_desk/2014/02/internet_troll_personality_study_machiavellianism_narcissism_psychopathy.html
From Slate:
In the past few years, the science of Internet trollology has made some strides. Last year, for instance, we learned that by hurling insults and inciting discord in online comment sections, so-called Internet trolls (who are frequently anonymous) have a polarizing effect on audiences, leading to politicization, rather than deeper understanding of scientific topics.

That’s bad, but it’s nothing compared with what a new psychology paper has to say about the personalities of trolls themselves. 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.

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.” Here’s how different responses about these Internet commenting preferences matched up with responses to questions designed to identify Dark Tetrad traits:
http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/articles/health_and_science/climate_desk/2014/02/140214_CDESK_MachiavellianTraits.jpg.CROP.original-original.jpg

E.E. Buckels et al, "Trolls just want to have fun," Personality and Individual Differences, 2014.

To be sure, 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.

The researchers conducted multiple studies, using samples from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk but also of college students, to try to understand why the act of trolling seems to attract this type of personality. They even constructed their own survey instrument, which they dubbed the Global Assessment of Internet Trolling, or GAIT, containing the following items:

I have sent people to shock websites for the lulz.

I like to troll people in forums or the comments section of websites.

I enjoy griefing other players in multiplayer games.

The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt.

Yes, some people actually say they agree with such statements. And again, doing so was correlated with sadism in its various forms, with psychopathy, and with Machiavellianism. 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!”

The study comes as websites, particularly at major media outlets, are increasingly weighing steps to rein in trollish behavior. Last year Popular Science did away with its comments sections completely, citing research on the deleterious effects of trolling, and YouTube also took measures to rein in trolling.

But study author Buckels actually isn’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),” she said by 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.”

~~
Joe(and that's why we have the Ignore Button)Nation
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Type: Question • Score: 28 • Views: 10,792 • Replies: 196

 
chai2
 
  4  
Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2014 06:49 pm
I find it interesting that "debating issues" although a far 2nd place, is the closest to the Dark Tetrad.

The main difference I see between the 2 is that trolls stay is shorter term.
tsarstepan
 
  2  
Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2014 07:05 pm
@Joe Nation,
JOE! Your mama wears combat boots! Mad







';-)'
Foofie
 
  -2  
Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2014 07:10 pm
@Joe Nation,
In my opinion, trolls may be frustrated "alphas." When it becomes apparent to a wannabe alpha that they have people online that won't bow, scrape, or curtsy, or worse yet, might make the wannabe alpha's post seemingly innocuous, the only thing that might allow for a degree of self-esteem is troll behavior?

Also, what was left out of the article is that we do not know if trolldom correlates to those that spent their lives with an aesthetic handicap - short, fat, ugly, etc., etc. Someone in that circumstance might just lash out at a world that treated him/her as an eyesore?

Lastly, I suspect many trolls might have a personal history of not living up to their own expectations?

There might be more than one troll that ends each day by singing, "When you wish upon a star, it makes no matter who you are..."

Final lastly, I wonder if many a troll identifies with the frog in the standard fairy tale of a princess that kisses a frog and the frog turns into a prince?

0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2014 07:14 pm
@chai2,
chai2 wrote:
I find it interesting that "debating issues" although a far 2nd place, is the closest to the Dark Tetrad.

I was going to say the same thing! Very Happy
0 Replies
 
Below viewing threshold (view)
Joe Nation
 
  4  
Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2014 07:27 pm
@tsarstepan,
tsarstepan wrote:

JOE! Your mama wears combat boots! Mad







';-)'

yes, yes she does.
Joe(Size 10 1/2)Nation
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2014 07:30 pm
If it weren't for trolling, I might be forced to get a life.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2014 07:32 pm
@tsarstepan,
tsarstepan wrote:
JOE! Your mama wears combat boots! Mad

Is that supposed to be trolling? Because it's not; it's a pathetic excuse for a failed attempt to troll. Get off this website and go to troll elementary school, where you belong!
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  2  
Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2014 07:37 pm
I started reading the piece thinking that it was going to lead me to:
1) see trolls in a different light and elicit some form of sympathy for them or 2) describe them but also list some of the successful ways of dealing with them.

So I got zilch other than the data that shows them to be Machiavellian Narcissistic Sadists. I have the feeling that they must all be the older brothers of beautiful spoiled little sisters.

Joe(poor horrible people)Nation
Setanta
 
  7  
Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2014 07:38 pm
We have a picture of my mother, not only wearing "army boots," but combat fatigues and a steel pot helmet, sitting behind a machine gun. It was from the training center she atteneded before being shipped out to England.

There is only one way to deal with trolls, and that is to ignore them. They feed on the attention. I know if have contributed to that problem, but the best way is just not to respond. Sometimes, though, they can take over. In Lil Kay's "Atheism" thread, they're feeding off one another.
oralloy
 
  -4  
Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2014 09:07 pm
@Joe Nation,
Joe Nation wrote:
I have the feeling that they must all be the older brothers of beautiful spoiled little sisters.

Nah. They're just plain evil. No other explanation.
0 Replies
 
anonymously99
 
  -2  
Reply Mon 17 Feb, 2014 11:09 pm
@Joe Nation,
Quote:
News: Internet Trolls Are Really Horrible People


Shocked

Quote:
News: Internet Trolls Are Really Horrible People


Or they are honestly psychotic.

Quote:
News: Internet Trolls Are Really Horrible People


Shocked Shocked Shocked
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  4  
Reply Tue 18 Feb, 2014 06:56 am
@Setanta,
Yep, ignore 'em, whether it requires electronic assistance or not.
Frank Apisa
 
  3  
Reply Tue 18 Feb, 2014 07:22 am
Unfortunately, for many, the definition of a troll is someone who is of a different opinion from the person shouting "troll"...particularly if the person being called "troll" is adamant about defending his/her opinion.

I've seen people called trolls in this forum, for example, by people I think are trolls personified. The term has become an epithet that often exceeds the conduct of the person at whom it is hurled.

And I've seen people do stuff they consider as "troll stuff" in others...while pretending to be offering great words of wisdom and value.

Suffer the trolls, people...because often they are not trolls, but merely individuals who see things differently from you.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 18 Feb, 2014 07:28 am
@jespah,
I will acknowledge that it is sometimes hard to do.
0 Replies
 
parados
 
  3  
Reply Tue 18 Feb, 2014 07:54 am
@Setanta,
Quote:
There is only one way to deal with trolls, and that is to ignore them.

Sometimes it's nice to get them to argue with each other. It keeps 2 trolls occupied for quite some time.
Below viewing threshold (view)
jespah
 
  3  
Reply Tue 18 Feb, 2014 08:05 am
@Frank Apisa,
This is a big part of why we have an ignore feature, and the thumbs down for topics and posts. The people who you see as trolls, I might not, and vice versa. This enormous site (over 200k people) is not slanted by the definition of 'troll' by a small group of people.

BTW, I've seen what I think you're referring to, where some people complain about trolls, then can't stop engaging those folks (and, like you pointed out, Frank, often in a negative manner that could itself be readily construed as trolling).
Joe Nation
 
  3  
Reply Tue 18 Feb, 2014 08:14 am
@Setanta,
I am always a little conflicted about trolls. If I put them on Ignore, I never see their posts and I am denied the delightful pleasure of seeking out and voting down every 'trollie" post they make.
Not every post gets downvoted (is that a verb?), just the ones wherein they are simply posting to be disruptive, (think three year old screaming "Momma, momma, Mommy, Mom" while the adults are trying to talk.) or when they continually post something off-topic but which adheres to some twisted view they have of the world, (um, youknowwho) or, and I know this is on the edge of something else, when the poster is just being unnecessarily dismissive or just plain mean. I don't get that. I don't.

Occasionally, I find myself peeking at a 'user ignored' post just to see if there's been any change, who knows maybe they've sought treatment? It's rare, but it does happen that someone I've deservedly (at least to my mind) labeled a troll will actually be making a contribution to the flow of ideas and comments here.

I love it when someone punctures my sense of righteousness.

Joe(that's why I have never been much of a success at trolling)Nation
 

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