Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Quote of the Day: The Cyber-Troll Profile

In my ongoing series on Internet culture, Australian researchers have examined the personality profiles of cyber-trolls. Although the study uses the term "troll," I don't like the term as it sort of minimizes what the abuser is doing - inflicting abuse and harm, deliberately.

Via the journal Personality and Individual Differences, the researchers first note that those on the receiving end of anti-social Internet behavior experience similar negative outcomes as though who receive face-to-face abuse. That is, what happens on the Internet is, actually, real, despite what current sociopathic narratives and memes posit.

"Both affective empathy and cognitive empathy (but not social skills) significantly predicted trolling behaviours. Affective empathy was a significant negative predictor of trolling behaviour, corroborating previous research that individuals lower on affective empathy measures are more likely to engage in antisocial behaviour (Warden & MacKinnon, 2003). This negative relationship between affective empathy and trolling suggests that trolls may not experience or internalise the emotional experience of their victims. This is likely a crucial aspect to trolling – if trolls empathised with their victim, perhaps they would be more likely to reduce or refrain from engaging in the behaviour.
....Based on the results of the current study, the prototypical troll is male, high in trait psychopathy and sadism, and has low affective empathy. The interaction of trait psychopathy and high cognitive empathy suggests trolls really are the master online manipulators – they cognitive understand the emotional distress they cause through their trolling behaviour without empathising with their victim's emotional suffering."
I think that final line is important to remember. Many "trolls" understand that their targets might be feeling upset, sad, angry, or hurt - they just don't care.

When people don't give a fuck about the harm they inflict on other people, that will almost always give them the upper hand in online interactions because they are playing by a different, anti-social set of rules than you are.

No comments: