Sunday, February 16, 2014

Who Knew? Trollism Is a Disease of the Mind.

Just go to the comments section of the National Post, Sun News, FOX News or even The G&M, and you'll find them gathered there, trolls spewing out utterly predictable hatred and venom that can seem to border on derangement.

It turns out they are deranged

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 scientific topics.

That's bad, but it's nothing compared with what a new psychology paper has to say about the personalities of so-called 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 underplay 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.

The study even resulted in a handy chart.

I have consulted an index of medical prefixes and suffixes to try to formulate an appropriate term for this disorder.  Some alternatives are trollasthenia, trollemisis, hypertrollitis, or trollepsis.

(p.s.  - If you're a leftard or a loonie leftie or a Lieberal you should bookmark the study linked above.  That could come in handy for your next troll attack.   You might want to refer them to the study and then encourage them to seek professional help.)


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Who are the "Others" in the chart?

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, Trollobites does have a certain ring to it.

I don't know about the "others" but you might want to follow the link.

deb said...

trollobites is awesome.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure modern trolling is mostly about mental health as it appears there more to it.

Anon 2

While reading an internet page titled 'I was a paid internet shill', I found myself nodding my head in agreement many times. Although the piece has been challenged as fiction, and likely it is, it describes a number of things that are not only possible, but likely. A discussion on it at this link and the original text is included plus related links;

This one linked to from the Guardian is also interesting;

Among the strategies discussed is disrupting threads by any means, flooding a board with multiple posts from posters with multiple ID's and making outrageous comments.

One thing I notice is trolls often arrive in packs and post in waves, particularly when they want to bury a comment or comments that run counter to their desired message. I find they generally only show up on political topics and especially anything to do with opposition Leaders and Liberals being a prime target.

It appears to be either some sort of nutters cult or it's organized.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon 2, there are definitely astroturfing groups like the Friends of Science and the several Koch-sponsored agencies. What sets them apart from the trolls is that they try to go light on the vitriol, the hatred which the trolls dispense with seemingly insatiable delight.

The astroturf gang are pros, in it for the money. If you go through the Sun websites, you'll be able to spot the demented amateurs.

deb said...

yes indeed, the demented go all adhominen within seconds. The pros stick to their varied talking pts and actually try to sound somewhat reasonable.

Purple library guy said...

Hm. As a non-troll who posts a lot and enjoys "debating issues", I still find the results somewhat disquieting. Of course, it's statistical. Any given individual could be quite different; for instance, I take issue with the notion that I would score only average on "Narcissism". I'm sure I'm considerably more narcissistic than the suggestion here. Note the very fact that I'm relating the issue to meee.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes indeed, PLG