Online Trolls Study

Analogous

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The internet doesn’t turn people into jerks so much as it acts as a massive megaphone for existing ones, according to work by researchers at Aarhus University.

In a study published in the American Political Science Review, the researchers used representative surveys and behavioral studies from the U.S. and Denmark to establish the reason why people broadly perceive the online environment as more hostile than offline interaction. A pre-print version of the article is available here.

The team considered the mismatch hypothesis, which in the context of online behavior refers to the theory that there is a conflict between human adaptation for face-to-face interpersonal interaction and the newer, impersonal online environment. That hypothesis more or less amounts to the idea that humans who would be nicer to each other in person might feel more inclined to get nasty when interacting with other pseudonymous internet users. The researchers found little evidence for that.

Instead, their data pointed to online interactions largely mirroring offline behavior, with people predisposed to aggressive, status-seeking behavior just as unpleasant in person as behind a veil of online anonymity, and choosing to be jerks as part of a deliberate strategy rather than as a consequence of the format involved.
 

Analogous

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Another study published in the Personality and Individual Differences journal in 2017 found that the most aggressive online trolls may tend to be high in cognitive empathy, which allows them to identify when they’re pushing someone else’s buttons, but low in affective empathy, enabling them to avoid feeling bad or internalizing the suffering they cause.
 
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