Chicago Boyz

What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading?

Recommended Photo Store
Buy Through Our Amazon Link or Banner to Support This Blog
  •   Enter your email to be notified of new posts:
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Authors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Lex's Tweets
  • Jonathan's Tweets
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • “New Study: Internet Trolls Are Often Machiavellian Sadists”

    Posted by Jonathan on February 16th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Cited here (via Lindsay Bell).

    The conclusions of this study seem consistent with observation.

    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.

    There’s also this (via The Big Picture):

    It’s long been obvious that people with wacko tendencies are vastly overrepresented among Internet commenters as compared to the general population. (See also this and this and this and this.)

    We’re a mere twenty years into human mass-networking via anonymous electronic connection. There are hints of major Internet-driven social changes that we don’t yet understand or even perceive. Much Internet activity seems to be fake. Many people online aren’t who they appear to be. Real-world activities, as in relations between the sexes, appear to be changing faster than ever as information propagates and incentives change in record time. It will be interesting to make sense of the social changes of the 1990s through 2010s from the perspective of twenty years hence, if we live long enough.


    26 Responses to ““New Study: Internet Trolls Are Often Machiavellian Sadists””

    1. BOB Says:

      IMO, the morons that pass on those fake emails with false political bs in them are worse than trolls. Trolls do not take themselves seriously. The ones passing those hoax emails on do.

    2. dearieme Says:

      I’ve never understood what “trolling” – in the internet sense – means. Is it a single, coherent phenomenon? Would anyone like to offer a definition?

    3. Jonathan Says:

      I think it’s more a syndrome and I know it when I see it. Commenters who seem deliberately provocative, and/or are obsessed with details or irrelevancies that distract from the big picture, often fit the pattern.

    4. Jim Miller Says:

      There’s a longish (and, I thought, reasonable) discussion of the term in the Wikipedia article.

      I tend, like the authors of that paper, to identify trolls by their intentions, as far as I can read them. If a person is trying to disrupt a discussion, then I am likely to consider them a troll. However, it can be hard to differentiate them from a person who is just obsessed with idea.

    5. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      So Facebook, who’s profession is ‘gaming the system’, were involved in the Obama election campaign? Coincidence, I guess.

    6. Robert Schwartz Says:


      From the Internet Jargon File:

      And the Urban Dictionary:

      Both of which sources are invaluable in this day and age. I have the urban dictionary on my context menu so I can highlight a word and have its definition pop up in a new tab.

    7. Robert Schwartz Says:

      So where is PenGun now that we need him?

    8. grey eagle Says:

      ‘TROLLING’ is a form of fishing. To do it you need an ocean, a lake or a pond in which there are some fish and perhaps some other creatures. Its more fun if the water is so deep that you can’t see the fish and the fish can’t see you.

      In order to troll you need some bait that the fish find exciting/insulting/stupid/interesting. The bait has to float, not sink.

      You tie the bait to a piece of string and then sit in a moving boat and drag the bait across the water. You troll to see what kind of creature will come up from the deep and snap up your bait.

      If you use a hook and catch something you have to throw it back in the water so its better not to use a hook.

      Trolls with hooks are called advertisers. Some work for the NSA or some other mythical agency.

    9. MikeK Says:

      Gray Eagle, you may well be right about the origin of the term. Some have attributed it to the troll under the bridge but I think your suggestion is better.

    10. dearieme Says:

      Thank you, GE; I know what ‘trolling” is in the nautical sense but I found your analogy helpful.
      Thank you, Robert: I found the discussion in your first link uselessly circular, but the second link was clear.

      Its first definition, though, strikes me as odd. Being “deliberately provocative” is surely a legitimate part of debate? Also, by what magic could I infer someone else’s “intention” anyway? Whereas the person covered by the second definition is indubitably just a pest, and may be judged fairly objectively by the symptoms listed.

    11. PenGun Says:

      Oh I’m sorry, busy with my gaming.

      A troll lives under a bridge and waits for passers’ by. I just poke holes in your ridiculous arguments, which may be irritating.

      So categorizing those who irritate you as some kind of monster allows you to just attack the messenger while ignoring the message. Typical here, and many other places too.

    12. Grurray Says:

    13. PenGun Says:

      Frost Troll:

    14. MikeK Says:

      “A troll lives under a bridge and waits for passers’ by. I just poke holes in your ridiculous arguments, which may be irritating. ”

      I prefer the definition which includes the troll posting comments just to provoke a response and to validate his own existence. For that reason, I like the “nautical” analogy.

    15. Lexington Green Says:

      PenGun is not a troll. He’s a contrarian, which is tolerable.

    16. MikeK Says:

      Contrarians provide arguments. PenGun provides insults. Not the same thing.

    17. PenGun Says:

      “Contrarians provide arguments. PenGun provides insults. Not the same thing.”

      Pot, meet kettle. ;)

    18. MikeK Says:

      I didn’t claim to be a contrarian. I will leave to others the decision if I am a troll. I think the only link I have seen from you was to a cartoon.

    19. T. Greer Says:

      Trolls can be intelligent or stupid, well argued or full of ad hominems. The strength of their logic is much less important than the reason for which they argue.

      Socrates was very close to a troll. If we take Plato at his word and believe that Socrates was just trying to find the truth, then he was a first rate philosopher. On the other hand, if all of Socrates’ dialogues were given to embarrass people seen as smart, to play with them and their ideas for the sheer amusement of it, then he’d be a troll o the highest order.

      As dearime notes, it is pretty hard to tell what people’s intentions are. It is often hard to tell if someone is really a troll or just argumentative (and oblivious) to a fault. To make matters worse, trolls know this and take advantage of it. It can be quite frustrating to deal with them.

      And so did Socrates die of Hemlock.

    20. Dan from Madison Says:

      PenGun fits my definition of a troll because each and every comment she gives is 100% predictable, is always on the same side politically, and lacks any real thinking and/or imagination. Heck, I could write PenGun’s comments for her if I needed to. With the notable exception of her “cougar whisperer” comments a while back, which came from Mars.

      I find her insults to the US hilarious, as if her native Canada lives in some sort of vacuum. If she lives in Canada, that is.

      She never comments on history or tech posts, just current events/politics, which also proves that she is basically a “plug and play” type of troll. Every troll can comment on politics, but most sound dumb(er) when trying to talk tech or history.

      Many of her comments are cut and paste as well, and Google has made it extremely easy to identify this type of behavior. For these reasons she adds nothing to any of my comments threads and I have banned her permanently from them.

      I also prefer the nautical definition of trolling.

      I don’t mind a troll if they add a dimension to my posts/threads, but in general I just don’t have the tine and/or energy for them.

    21. Dan from Madison Says:

      Although I will admit that having easy lunches like PenGun around here are good info, in the sense that we can see inside the leftist mind. For better or worse.

    22. Will Says:

      I wonder how many are on the payroll of the Soros/Chicago combine? I realize of course, food stamps, SSI/SSDI, welfare and the myriad of University programs that encourage and quite possibly accredit such activity make the typing easier, but it’s not a “living wage” is it?

    23. PenGun Says:

      Oh Dan, I have gotten under your skin it seems. A position neither of us likes. ;)

    24. Dan from Madison Says:

      Oh, most definitely, Pen.

    25. Sgt. Mom Says:

      (follows Dan’s link) *snicker*

    26. PenGun Says:

      “Oh, most definitely, Pen.”

      LOL. That’s actually an Orc but I can understand the confusion. I will play one in Elder Scrolls Online when it comes out, and actually before, as I am testing in the beta.

    Leave a Reply

    Comments Policy:  By commenting here you acknowledge that you have read the Chicago Boyz blog Comments Policy, which is posted under the comment entry box below, and agree to its terms.

    A real-time preview of your comment will appear under the comment entry box below.

    Comments Policy

    Chicago Boyz values reader contributions and invites you to comment as long as you accept a few stipulations:

    1) Chicago Boyz authors tend to share a broad outlook on issues but there is no party or company line. Each of us decides what to write and how to respond to comments on his own posts. Occasionally one or another of us will delete a comment as off-topic, excessively rude or otherwise unproductive. You may think that we deleted your comment unjustly, and you may be right, but it is usually best if you can accept it and move on.

    2) If you post a comment and it doesn't show up it was probably blocked by our spam filter. We batch-delete spam comments, typically in the morning. If you email us promptly at we may be able to retrieve and publish your comment.

    3) You may use common HTML tags (italic, bold, etc.). Please use the "href" tag to post long URLs. The spam filter tends to block comments that contain multiple URLs. If you want to post multiple URLs you should either spread them across multiple comments or email us so that we can make sure that your comment gets posted.

    4) This blog is private property. The First Amendment does not apply. We have no obligation to publish your comments, follow your instructions or indulge your arguments. If you are unwilling to operate within these loose constraints you should probably start your own blog and leave us alone.

    5) Comments made on the Chicago Boyz blog are solely the responsibility of the commenter. No comment on any post on Chicago Boyz is to be taken as a statement from or by any contributor to Chicago Boyz, the Chicago Boyz blog, its administrators or owners. Chicago Boyz and its contributors, administrators and owners, by permitting comments, do not thereby endorse any claim or opinion or statement made by any commenter, nor do they represent that any claim or statement made in any comment is true. Further, Chicago Boyz and its contributors, administrators and owners expressly reject and disclaim any association with any comment which suggests any threat of bodily harm to any person, including without limitation any elected official.

    6) Commenters may not post content that infringes intellectual property rights. Comments that violate this rule are subject to deletion or editing to remove the infringing content. Commenters who repeatedly violate this rule may be banned from further commenting on Chicago Boyz. See our DMCA policy for more information.