A scientific analysis of internet trolls finds that yes, they’re actually sadistic psychopaths.

By Seriously Science | February 17, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/FixersUK

Photo: flickr/FixersUK

Why do internet trolls do what they do? Here, scientists used online surveys to learn more about trolling personalities. Interspersed among questions like  “Do you post comments on websites (e.g., YouTube, news sites, forums, etc.)? (even occasionally?)”  were questions such as “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”, and “The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt.” Somewhat unsurprisingly, it turns out that the people who like to troll also score highly on personality measures of sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism (a term used by psychologists to describe a person’s ability to deceive or manipulate others). Don’t click on this.

Trolls just want to have fun

“In two online studies (total N = 1215), respondents completed personality inventories and a survey of their Internet commenting styles. Overall, strong positive associations emerged among online commenting frequency, trolling enjoyment, and troll identity, pointing to a common construct underlying the measures. Both studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores. Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior. Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism. Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.”

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  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    Dialogue – non-negotiable demands. Discrimination – objective evaluation; standardized testing. Diversity – admission based upon disqualification. A psychopath is a sociopath with goals. Goodthought always suffers agents’ of Goldstein doubelplusungood thoughtcrime. Consider Tommy Aquinas proving God exists by glorious citation versus pschopathic troll Baruch Spinzoa proving God cannot exist, by reason.

    Given Ptolemy, curve fit astronomy (Copernicus). Given cartography, curve fit Euclid (Bolyai). Given cyclotrons, curve fit Newton (special relativity). Given Mercury’s orbit, curve fit Newton (general relativity) . Given helium’s emission spectrum, curve fit Bohr (quantum mechanics) Given the Dirac equation, curve fit proton magnetic moment (quarks). Given spiral galaxies, curve fit the Tully-Fisher relation (no dark matter – Milgrom acceleration). Given Yang and Lee, curve fit vacuum mirror symmetry toward hadrons (trace vacuum chiral anisotropy toward matter measurable with geometric Eötvös experiments).

    Psychcopathic trolls must be rounded up for Room 101. The Ministry of Love celebrates the Ministry of Truth.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/ Neuroskeptic

    “Trolls are psychopaths.” Problem, trolls?

    • DaffyDuck325

      psychologist, u mad bro?

  • Dan

    Nominate for an Ig Noble

  • andrewkewley

    The headline could alternatively read “Gullible psychologists believe everything they read in online questionnaires”.

    Given that this study had no observation or objective measures of offline behaviour, it is purely hypothesis generating.

    • DaffyDuck325


    • Fred

      uhh, yeah. that’s what the article says it was. “scientists used online surveys to learn more about trolling personalities.”

  • wowlfie

    I think the problem is the troll hunters are actually trolls themselves. It seems these ‘hunter’ trolls repeatedly go out of their way to find someone being negative about someone and quick to label that person a troll and put them down. They don’t realize their being a troll themselves by harping on the trolls every comment.

    • DaffyDuck325

      They are called stalkers.

  • Jack Handy

    The trolls trolled the scientists and gave fake answers to sound as horrible as possible. lol!

    • DaffyDuck325

      LOL! Probable.

  • Joseph Mo

    I blame Zionist Israel

  • Renay Maurice

    all you have to do is go on Twitter and say something against guns, Republicans or in favour of women and feminism to find this shit is real.

  • Farheet

    So where exactly is all this “research” or evidence? Stop trying to spread fallacies, this is nothing but pure text, doesn’t prove anything.


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