(Use of exclusively quantitative data - from what I can see - aside, I’ll get on board because it’s a pretty obvious conclusion. This just in: sadistic online bullies are sadistic bullies offline too. And all-round meanies. I like the “vile tendency” wording, though. Also: sexist trolls are the absolute worst. Can’t argue with that.)


The findings of a few studies suggest that trolls who are mean-spirited and manipulative online have offline personalities to match, and that insecurity drives a fair amount of their trollery.

Case in point are two 2014 studies from Canada’s University of Manitoba that looked at the personalities of some 1,200 people who engage in trolling, which the researchers described as “behaving in a deceptive, destructive, or disruptive manner in a social setting on the internet” for seemingly no purpose at all. (The trolls would likely say they do it for the “lulz,” or laughs that come at another person’s expense.)

[…] “Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior,” study authors note. “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… Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun… and the internet is their playground!”

A 2015 collaborative study from the University of New South Wales and Miami University found that male trolls who exhibited sexism in gaming, hurling misogynist threats and insults at women online, were particularly likely to be among the crappy players. The scientists observed players in the online first-person shooter game Halo 3, and found that the success of male players informed how they behaved toward women.

“Men who were of lower skill were more positive towards men and more negative towards women,” Michael Kasumovic, one of the study authors, told Wired magazine. “But the really neat result is that when men were of higher skill, they were much more positive to women.”

#research: sadistic online bullies are sadistic bullies offline too. And all-round meanies