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Do you know the anatomy of an internet troll? It's a little uglier than you might think.
Hey everyone, Laci Green here for DNews. It's admittedly my favorite scientific field of
all: internet trollology. I grew up on AND work on the internet in many capacities, so
trolls have always been a point of fascination for me. Who are these a-holes who seem to
take pleasure in saying and doing hurtful things to others on the web -- these "trolls"
who derail interesting discussion in favor of an epic (but meaningless) flame war?
A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences finds there's more....or
maybe just as much...to trolls as meets the eye. They found that the people who engage
in this behavior online have some striking personality traits in common. Particularly,
traits that are found in the "Dark Tetrad": Machiavellian tendencies, psychopathy, sadism,
and narcissism. Those who fall in the Dark Tetrad may appear charming at first, but they
are ultimately self concerned, callous, and lack empathy for others. The cherry on the
sundae is the sadism -- sadistic personality types truly enjoy seeing others in distress.
The Dark Tetrad is the perfect villain.
Compared to the general population, study participants who reported that they enjoy
trolling have much higher rates of these Dark Tetrad traits - most notably is their unusually
high rates of sadism. The study was conducted by evaluating the personality traits of participants
against what they use the internet for. Those who engage in purposefully inflammatory behavior
make up a very small percentage of internet users on the whole, though -- only 5%. Compare
that to the 41% of users who don't comment at all, period.
So what does this mean? Well, first off: the sadistic group is the smallest, but the loudest.
The researchers believe that the anonymity and social acceptance of "trolling" creates
a safe space for real life sadists to indulge themselves. Offline, there are more consequences.
It also means that there's more to a troll than simple mischief. Internet trolling could
be an indicator of disturbing behavior offline. And...it also calls to question the effectiveness
of "not feeding the trolls". Sadists find their behavior intrinsically motivating, so
even if they never get a response -- simply acting on the nasty impulse is pleasurable
in and of itself.
What I've noticed in the past 5, 10 years is that there is a change slowly coming over
the internet. As the web becomes more intertwined with our REAL lives and identities -- and
less of the anarchistic playground it used to be in the olden golden days, it will be
harder for people to indulge in everyday sadism on the web. YouTube itself has contributed
to the movement toward internet civility by forcing many users to have their comments
connected with their name. You know, with that G+ revamp we were all so fond of...
So guys, what do you make of internet trolls? Share your thoughts down below, and we'll
catch you next time on DNews for some more science updates.
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Are Trolls Jerks In Real Life?

842 Folder Collection
羅紹桀 published on July 8, 2016    ED translated    Mandy Lin reviewed
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