As with all Gaker Media employees, Gawker Media’s Adrian Covert; a Self Professed Character assassin, has been told to: “…Shut the fuck up, you lying drooling mentally ill trolling psychopathic shitstain…” By The Internet
Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People
Narcissistic, Machiavellian, Psychopathic, and Sadistic.
By Chris Mooney
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
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 overplay 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: 2
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
* I enjoy griefing
[http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=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
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