A new study by researchers at the University of Manitoba confirmed what most of us already knew: Internet trolls are actually horrible people in real life too.

The study, conducted by Erin Buckels, Paul Trapnellb and Delroy Paulhusc, found that chronic Internet trolls tended to have the “Dark Tetrad of personality”—like sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism—in real life as well.

Slate explains:

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.

In the study, trolls were identified in a variety of ways. One was by simply asking survey participants what they “enjoyed doing most” when on online comment sites, offering five options: “debating issues that are important to you,” “chatting with others,” “making new friends,” “trolling others,” and “other.” Here’s how different responses about these Internet commenting preferences matched up with responses to questions designed to identify Dark Tetrad traits.

E.E. Buckels et al, "Trolls just want to have fun," Personality

Researchers conducted multiple surveys and studies to get their results, including polling college students. They also created and administered their own Global Assessment of Internet Trolling (GAIT), which included the following items:

I have sent people to shock websites for the lulz.

I like to troll people in forums or the comments section of websites.

I enjoy griefing other players in multiplayer games.

The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt.

At the conclusion of the study, researchers found that the correlation between sadism and trolling was the strongest because “both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others…Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”

Despite the results, only 5.6 percent of respondents admitted to trolling, while 41.3 percent said they were “non-commenters.” This means although trolls are very vocal, extremely annoying, and are harassers—they are only a small slice of all Internet users.

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  • seriously?

    I was once a troller ahh the times there is some truth to the survey

  • Anthony

    This is more proof that the best thing to do is to ignore a troll, and for moderators to ban them.

    • TerraC

      But aren’t you a troll though?

    • MimiLuvs

      I have been an avid reader of Clutch Magazine for close to eight years now. For the first two years, I just lurked. I read the articles and I had read the comments. I also noticed something.
      In regards to Clutch,(in my opinion) the trolls that frequent this site are intelligent with their trolling. Unlike most blogs/gossip sites/web pages with a comment section with their trolls posting inflammatory and immatured comments,the trolls (on here) are more sly with their comments. Occasionally, there are the comments in which it is obvious (usually, they are found in any article related to single parentage and relationships, both intra-racial and interracial). But the sly ones are the most aggravating ones.

    • MimiLuvs


      I cannot tell if you’re being sarcastic or if you are serious with your inquiry. Well, if its the latter…
      In my opinion, Anthony isn’t a troll. I have a feeling that (with other commentators) they believe that he is a troll (or, at least, not wanted around these parts) because he is a schl0ng swinger.

  • geenababe

    A troll could mean different things to different people. I use to think a troll was someone who would comment on certain articles or sites to get a rise out of the people visitng. Then it changed to where anyone could be called a troll if they say something in a respectful manner that other don’t agree with. Anyone now days can be called a troll on the internent.

    • MimiLuvs

      For me, a troll is someone that tries to get a rise out of everyone, in a comment section.
      Take Clutch for instance, there are certain commentators (who are regular commentators) that I think are trolls. They do not use the same flowery language that most trolls use. In fact, they are very cordial (at first) and appear to hold knowledge. But eventually, they begin to (what my mom says)show their a$$.

  • Jon Palmer

    They should do some research into stalkers. One site I go on there are two different people being stalked. They both have someone else who takes their username and their photo. Every time the original changes his photo the stalker takes it for himself. The stalker then follows the original and replies to every comment they make from one site to another, often being cruel and obscene.
    I have seen both victims ask the stalkers why or what did they do or say to upset the stalker. They have both tried to make peace and apologize. They never get a specific post or incident. The stalkers just won’t stop.
    I would like to see an psychological profile of someone who would do that.
    Is that behavior even common?