Online trolls are sadistic psychopaths

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Uruk-Hai

Urban Dictionary defines troll as “One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.”

Appropriately, the etymology or origin of the English noun troll in the standard sense of ugly dwarf or giant dates to 1610 and comes from the Old Norse word ‘troll’ meaning giant or demon.

Like other sites, FOTM has our share of obnoxious trolls. An example is a demonic troll who first called himself Lets Kill Birthers and made death threats against our writers. I repeatedly banned him, but he kept coming back by using a seemingly endless series of aliases — Birthers are Traitors, Why Lie, Truth Hurts, Want Truth?, James Spader, Jasper, John Bingham, David Strange, Jason Jones, JasperX, John Jasper, Jack, middle upperclass guy, hater of trashjerks, Tom, Tom’sBro, tbm, Tman, The Humphrey. Boss Hogg, paid blogger, Devil’s Advocate, Tom Franks. And so I cut to the quick by addressing him simply — and appropriately — as Legion.

Interestingly, Legion’s trolling stopped at around the time that an Obamabot named Adam Eugene Cox was arrested, and found guilty, for making death threats against Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Adam Cox

It, therefore, comes as no surprise to me that a new psychological study, E.E. Buckels et al, “Trolls just want to have fun,” Personality and Individual Differences, 2014, determined that online trolls are narcissistic, manipulative, deceptive, sadistic PSYCHOPATHS.

In other words, trolls are evil.

Chris Mooney reports for the Daily Mail, Feb. 14, 2014, that new research by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues sought to 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).

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:

The study found that only 5.6% of survey respondents actually specified that they enjoy “trolling.” By contrast, 41.3% 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, comprised of 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 Erin Buckles of the University of Manitoba, the study’s first author, actually isn’t sure that fix is a realistic one. She wrote in an email: “Because the behaviors are intrinsically motivating for sadists, comment moderators will likely have a difficult time curbing trolling with punishments (e.g., banning users)l. 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.”

This is how FOTM deals with psychopaths who make death threats:

1. We respond with this comment:

It is a federal crime, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, to transmit any communication containing a threat to injure the person of another, via the Internet and e-mail (as well as the telephone, beepers, and other means of communication). Should any reader of this blog threaten harm to our writers, we will report you and your IP address to the police.

The following information on commenter __ has been turned over to law enforcement:

  • IP address: ______
  • E-mail address: _______

2. Since trolls troll because they think they’re protected by the Internet’s anonymity, if you threaten us, we’ll hunt you down and unmask you, including what you look like.

See also:

H/t FOTM’s swampygirl

~Eowyn

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0 responses to “Online trolls are sadistic psychopaths

  1. Good post and I am so glad you are addressing it head on. Sure makes you wonder what kind of life they had as a young person and how they did or did not participate in school. Is their actions a payback for some reason?
    It seems they have some deep seeded problem begging to be turned loose and they haven’t the bravery to address their actions truthfully, but hide behind different monikers?

     
  2. Reblogged this on Flying Tiger Comics and commented:
    It, therefore, comes as no surprise to me that a new psychological study, E.E. Buckels et al, “Trolls just want to have fun,” Personality and Individual Differences, 2014, determined that online trolls are narcissistic, manipulative, deceptive, sadistic PSYCHOPATHS.

    In other words, trolls are evil.

    Chris Mooney reports for the Daily Mail, Feb. 14, 2014, that new research by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues sought to 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).

    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.

     
  3. Reblogged this on BLOGGING BAD ~ DICK.G: AMERICAN ! and commented:
    GUNNY G !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     
  4. Huge thanks for sharing with the world the definitive characteristics of The “Obama” Conspirators and their Wicked Digital Army.

     
  5. Great post, Dr. Eowyn. Now you have unmasked, not just individual trolls, but the entire species.

     
  6. Did Adam Cox have a starring role in the movie ” Wrong Turn” ?……Me thinks his family tree is in a shape of a telephone pole !

     
  7. I like you response and have copied it & saved it to my MS Word notes. My question is … how do you get their IP, etc.? I’ve thought about starting a blog, myself, so that info would be good to have on hand.
    Also, I’d like to give you a big THANKS, for all the info you put out. Been real interesting, without a doubt.

     
    • Thank you for your kind words, patrioticgofer.

      The owner, as well as the writers of a WordPress blog who have not just “author” but also “editor” status, can see the IP address of anyone who posts a comment. At least that’s true for WordPress blogs.

       
  8. Nice Nobuma picture, where was get? In a White House?

     
  9. People with evil intentions think that darkness and anonymity “protects” them…that’s why they show up to the bank robbery with a mask on…and case the neighborhood for the darkest place to rob……We must ALWAYS keep the lights shining on them, rip off their “masks.” Thanks Dr. E!

     
    • Since we humans telegraph who we are in everything we do, another reason why I spend the time tracking the trolls is because their faces speak volumes about who they really are.

       
  10. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this absolutely phenomenal post! It is indeed noteworthy to now know there is a class of persona attributed to trolls – fascinating! In other words, such individuals choose evil, or the devil, as their master, the father of lies and a murderer from the very beginning.

     
  11. I totally believe this. In my experience engaging them, they will call you a troll, projecting all of their own behavior. Trolls are radical activists who have been emotionally traumatized by propaganda. They abuse people while crying victim, and hiding behind false compassion/fake empathy. They often claim or display intellectual superiority supported by denial of history/reality. They are the result of psychological warfare, politically correct brainwashing, and ideological subversion. Psychopathic behavior can be nurtured. The ability to do so must have been crafted by an evil psychologist, studying cult leaders mind control over others, and propaganda tactics. Christianity is often manipulated this way. Jim Jones being an example of how easy it is to manipulate people.

     

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