EconoMonitor

Great Leap Forward

About Those Trolls…. Yes, It’s Troll Friday

It’s Troll Friday, hence, let’s look at Trolls.

Well, the science is in, and yes Trolls really are horrible people. Who wudda thunk?

This post at Slate pretty much tells us what I’ve concluded after some years of dealing with trolls: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/climate_desk/2014/02/internet_troll_personality_study_machiavellianism_narcissism_psychopathy.html.

Here’s a summary of the research:

“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 overplay 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.”

Yep, Trolls are usually very quick–they’ll respond with one of the very first comments, and then stay at it, responding to the comments of others. They always try to move the discussion in a direction that gratifies their need for sadism.

The report goes on: “trolls are, as has often been suspected, a minority of online commenters, and an even smaller minority of overall Internet users….

Overall, the authors found that the relationship between sadism and trolling was the strongest, and that indeed, sadists appear to troll because they find it pleasurable. “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others,” they wrote. “Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”

Readers will have noted that we’re getting fewer Trolls on GLF–which has been a moderated blog for quite some time. However, the authors of the report note that warnings and moderation do not change the behavior of Trolls–“Ultimately, the allure of trolling may be too strong for sadists, who presumably have limited opportunities to express their sadistic interests in a socially-desirable manner.”

Unfortunately, Yep.

5 Responses to “About Those Trolls…. Yes, It’s Troll Friday”

ChrisDecember 15th, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Any chance you can write a piece on what’s happening with Russia and other markets with their weakening currencies? Oil price drop is cited but some of us non-economists need a fuller explanation.

L. Randall Wray L. Randall WrayDecember 17th, 2014 at 7:02 pm

chris: cannot because i don’t know any more than you do, as i rely on the same biased western reporting that both overstates the crisis and misstates what it is all about. I suspect it is a political crisis, not an economic crisis, and that a good part of the problem is the USA-forced sanctions by the west. I wouldn’t look to economic explanations or solutions to a political problem. In any event it is no doubt complex and one would need to know a lot about russia to provide an analysis.

Erick BorlingDecember 22nd, 2014 at 4:50 am

Doc, I’ve written a few ascerbic comments before, as my buttons were pushed by argumentative and insulting Hyekians and other economics ideologues. I regretted that. Anyway, online commenting is an unpaid activity that does little good except create troves of big data for entrepeneurial content aggregators. This comment included. Trolls and non-trolls should really just write, at a minimum, 500-word essays instead of any post. The insulting phrase hurled over the web-o-net is only a tween’s art-form. I see that now, for being a good and kind person requires intellectual and emotional growth, while kids and adult-kids who think that a hurtful comment is a clever and valid point have ceased to refine their character beyond their formative years. So let’s keep in mind that provocative common-taters may very well be kids who, respectfully, don’t know what they’re talking about. They are still angry at mom and dad. But with economics, it’s hard not to get really demoralized after learning MMT and witnessing the dismal state of the U.S. and the low quality of civic and political discourse, particularly when that has real consequences on… %99 of people.

L. Randall Wray L. Randall WrayDecember 22nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Erick: I encounter 2 kinds of trolls. The first has nothing to say, just wants to spread hatred. I suppose these are the “kids” you refer to. The second is selling something. Every comment made by the second type is always on the same theme, almost always irrelevant to the post on which he (almost always a he) is commenting. You will note I have a standing offer to let any troll write up an essay for posting. I have even written individually to such Trolls to make the offer. Only two have ever taken me up on the offer. The reason is that they actually cannot put 500 words together into a coherent statement. Their entire position is exhausted in the 25 word comment they always make. I think in particular of a nasty Troll who always and everywhere wants to bring up “current account constrained growth”. He admitted to me that he’s not capable of writing an essay on the topic.