Internet Trolls: Are They Born or Made?

(futuristic tones echo) – All right, it’s my
favorite time of the day. Time to respond to some
Above the Noise comments on YouTube, let’s see what
the people are talking about. This channel is BS! You suck. Lame! Good Lord, you’re boring, bro? Ouch. People are mean. (upbeat instrumental music)
Is that what they’re saying? If you’ve ever been on
the internet, like, ever, you’ve probably run
into an internet troll and they are the worst,
like worse than wet socks. (sad horn honking) Trolls are the people who
say crazy, nasty things just to get people all riled up and the internet
is their playground where they love
to taunt everyone. Like, I’m not the only
one trolls come after. Just ask my friend,
Physics Girl. Here’s some of the
comments she’s gotten. – Silly and fake. I thought all blondies are dumb, but I guess every universal
law has an exceptions. I think that they
misspelled their insult. – And I’m wondering, who
are these mean people? What makes someone
an internet troll? All right, so believe it or not, there are real researchers
at big name universities that actually study
online trolling behavior. I mean, it’s a big deal. Trolls can disrupt entire
online communities, so much so that some
news outlets have removed the comment sections from
their websites altogether. Trolling can also lead to some
serious emotional distress. And some groups like LGBTQ,
People of Color, and women seem to get targeted
more than others. For more details, check
out these two surveys from the Data & Society
Research Institute and the Pew Research Center. It’s kind of disturbing,
y’all, but as always, links in the description. OK, so in the academic
world, there’s a variety of different definitions
for trolling behavior. But basically, it’s
behavior that falls outside of acceptable bounds
defined by those, those meaning
online, communities. It can include things like
personal attacks, flaming, swearing, basically comments
meant to stir up trouble, but isn’t that cyber bullying? Sometimes, but not always. Trolling can be different
from cyber bullying in that trolls mainly say
stuff to get attention and amuse themselves at the
expense of online communities, while cyber bullies usually
aim to harm a specific person. So to clarify, trolling
is not just people getting in disagreements
with each other. I mean, it’s totally normal
to have different opinions than someone else and express
that in a respectable manner. I respectfully disagree
with you Lauren. I don’t think Sandlot’s
the greatest movie ever. I think Space Jam’s the
greatest movie ever. – All right, cool. – Perfect. You see how easy it is to
engage in a civil dialogue? OK, so what makes someone
an actual internet troll? Well, there’s been a few studies looking at personality
traits of people who troll. One paper title, and
I’m not making this up, Trolls Just want to
Have Fun, was published in the Journal of Personality
and Individual Differences. It found that trolls tended
to have personality traits associated with
sadism, psychopathy, and machiavellianism, with
sadism being the strongest. And to refresh everyone’s
memory on what these terms mean, sadism is the act of gaining
pleasure from hurting others. Psychopathy is a
personality disorder exhibiting egotistical traits, persistent antisocial behavior, and lack of empathy and remorse. Machiavellianism is
the personality type of master manipulators, people that manipulate
without remorse. And if you think about
it, this makes sense since trolls get a kick
out of upsetting people. And a brand new paper
published in the same journal in December, 2017,
showed similar results. Trolls are more
likely to be males with psychopathy
and sadism traits. So based on this
type of research, it would seem that maybe some
trolls are just born that way, but think about it, trolls
are all over the internet. It’s like you can’t go anywhere
without running into one. Surely they can’t all be
psychopaths and sadists, right? And this is exactly what
researchers out of Stanford and Cornell were curious about, so they designed an experiment
to see if just anybody could be provoked into trolling. Science! OK, so check this out. First they put people in either
a good mood or a bad mood and to do this they
gave them either crazy-hard logic
questions and puzzles and told them they were
doing a terrible job, or they gave them super
easy questions and puzzles and told them they
were doing a great job. I’ll let you guess which
one puts you in a bad mood. Then they divided the people up and asked them to make
comments in a comment section of a mock online news article. The article was
either pre-populated with mean trolling
contents, or it wasn’t. Not surprisingly, troll posts
were highest in the bad mood group whose thread already
had trolling comments. And after some fancy
statistical analysis the researchers found
that negative mood increases the odds
of trolling by 89% and the presence of
prior troll posts increases the odds by
68%, so this suggests that regular old
run-of-the-mill non-sadists can engage in trolling,
too, and that trolling might just be contagious. All of this wasn’t super
surprising to the scientists because, well, there’s
been other research that shows that bad mood and
exposure to antisocial behavior can actually set off
antisocial behavior in others. So maybe trolls
are born and made. Now I want you to think
about your online behavior. Has there ever been a
time where the conditions were just right where
you trolled someone? Think really hard
about this one. I think we’ve all
been there, you know, gotten a kick out of
intentionally annoying someone. Perhaps there’s a little
troll in all of us. Anyway, let us know about
it in the comments below and please, try to
refrain from trolling us. Might I suggest you
take a deep breath, listen to some chill music, maybe treat yourself
to something delicious, and then leave us a comment. Thanks for watching and
remember, stay above the trolls. (upbeat music) Oh, oh, wait, wait, wait, wait,
and if you like this video be sure to check out our
video on online privacy. Thanks for watching guys.

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