Warning: Online trolls may find this article offensive. Internet trolls will most likely find 1,001 reasons to argue with another person online about this article and rant and argue on the comments section. Trivial matters are seen by these individuals as matters of life and death or principle just for the sake of starting an argument on social networks or comments sections of websites.
Experts from the University of Manitoba have engaged in some "trollology" and have looked into the personality traits of online trolls. The researchers conducted several studies in order to find out if they can classify these people under sadism, narcissism and Machiavellianism. Sadism is about inflicting suffering to others and finding joy doing it, narcissism is obsession with one's self, and Machiavellianism focuses on deception and manipulation of others. The three traits fall under what is know in psychology as the Dark Tetrad.
The results of the study titled "Trolls just want to have fun" have been published in the journal "Personality and Individual Differences."
"In two online studies...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," the abstract of the study read.
"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," it added.
Of the 1,215 subjects, about 43 percent disclosed that they do not comment at all online. Meanwhile, minority of 5.6 percent disclosed that they enjoy cyber trolling.
"Some find it hard to reconcile sadism with the concept of 'normal' psychological functioning, but our findings show that sadistic tendencies among otherwise well-adjusted people must be acknowledged. These people aren't necessarily serial killers or sexual deviants but they gain some emotional benefit in causing or simply observing others' suffering," said lead author Erin Buckels in an earlier statement about a related study.
"Trolling culture is unique in that it explicitly celebrates sadistic pleasure, or 'lulz.' It is, perhaps, not surprising then that sadists gravitate toward those activities," Buckel added.
However, the study clarified that enjoyment of online debating or chatting can be unrelated to sadism and not all of commenters on the Internet are psychopaths. The researchers explained that it may not be that easy to control trolling using punishments especially when the sadists see what they spreads inflicts harm on the moderators.
Trolls just want to have fun but don't feed them or they will thrive.