Psychologists have confirmed that internet trolls are sadistic, narcissistic, Machiavellian, manipulative psychopaths who feed off of negativity for pure enjoyment. Canadian researchers determined that internet trolls are essentially bad people.
The researchers defined trolling as “the practice of behaving in a deceptive, destructive, or disruptive manner in a social setting on the internet.” Less formally, UrbanDictionary.com illustrates the act of trolling and the mentality behind it: “Typically unleashing one or more cynical . . . remarks on an innocent bystander because it’s the internet and, hey, you can.” The only justification trolls have for their behavior is simply doing it for the “lulz,” or sadistic enjoyment at the expense of others.
Using the “Dark Tetrad” personality test, scientists have found that internet trolls exhibit sadistic, narcissistic, Machiavellian (willingness to lie and manipulate), and psychopathic tendencies. And since there aren’t many real world situations that allow people to act on those impulses, the internet has become a breeding ground because of its anonymity.
The study illustrates connections between behaviors outlined in the Dark Tetrad and internet trolling. Researchers surveyed internet users asking them what “they enjoyed doing” most on the internet. One of the responses included “trolling others.”
Some questions even revolved around statements like: “I enjoy physically hurting people” and “I enjoy playing the villain in games and torturing other characters.” Despite online trolling being seemingly rampant, only 5.6 percent of the survey’s respondents said they specifically enjoyed trolling.
The test showed that “of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior.” The researchers developed another module of the test which offered more specific statements to gauge the trolling behaviors of others, to which some said yes:
“I have sent people to shock websites for the lulz.”
“The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt.”
The researchers concluded the study, saying that online trolling is a “manifestation of everyday sadism.” Also, the researchers offered that the best advice against internet trolls is what almost of the internet has already agreed upon: “Do not feed the trolls.” Just ignore them, and they’ll go away.