This Trait Shared in Common by Internet Trolls and Politicians is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

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Top Tier Gear USA


Sport to some, digital bullying to others — whether you abide online trolling or find the inflammatory, sometimes cruel, practice repulsive — the Internet’s myriad disparate troll armies are apparently here to stay.

Seeding malcontent, disputation, division, needless provocation, and, often, chaos, trolls merit their characterization by the hordes as the bane of the Internet.

But, upon examining the psychology of these ruthless keyboard provocateurs, their likely detriment to civil discourse — already evinced in the mimicry of youth — sounds a warning not to be ignored.

Trolls, researchers found, possess a worrisome psychologic profile, laced with psychopathy and sadism, as well as a dearth in empathy — all of which they employ in online manipulation to sow mayhem, an ultimate reward for their mischief.

Researchers at Federation University in Australia queried 415 participants, approximately two-thirds of them female, with a median age of 23, to determine their levels of psychopathy, sadism, and empathy — such as gauging trolls’ agreement with the statement, “People would enjoy hurting others if they gave it a go.”

Of the study, CBS News reports,

“In terms of empathy, the researchers looked at a number of different forms that trait can take. For instance, cognitive empathy is the capacity to recognize and properly identify another person’s emotions. Affective empathy goes farther, referring to the ability to experience, internalize and respond to those observed emotions. Global empathy refers to the reaction one has when directly observing another’s life experience.

“The researchers found that trolls tend to show higher levels of trait psychopathy and sadism, as well as lower levels of affective empathy, according to the study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

“Interestingly, trolls scored higher than average for cognitive empathy, meaning they are aware of other people’s emotions. But the researchers suggested, trolls’ higher levels of psychopathy traits appear to override these tendencies.”

Populating seemingly every musty corner of the Internet, trolls’ antics can contaminate, animate, and decimate even the most productive of debates — most often pertaining to politics — leaving some emotions tattered at the disarray, while still others steel themselves to the vacuous thrill-seeking, a common trait of psychopaths.

Considering trolls’ heightened cognitive empathy — keen perception of others’ emotions — and deftness via keyboard, manipulation, for its own sake, appears to be the goal.

Researchers explained trolls “appear to be master manipulators of both cyber-settings and their victims’ emotions.”

Despite their barbs, jabs, and spewing of contentious … well … anything, trolls aren’t typically considered of the same ilk as cyberbullies, at least among academics, notes CBS News.

Apart from trolls, whose exploits aren’t as personal as other interactions, bad behavior online can have extraordinary consequences — a spate of suicides among teens across North America purportedly stemmed from disputes amplified by peers on social media.

Last year’s election spotlighted the rather horrifying Internet penchant for gratuitous mud-slinging, as rifts between political parties widened to gulfs, hairline fractures among friends seemed cleaved into chasms.

Assisting in the seismic shakedown were entire troll armies — like the apparently impotent platoon of Hillary Clinton, paid professional petulants on whom the failed campaign spent around $1 million, or that rumored of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

For merriment, the researchers surmised, trolls haunted political forums provoking commenters to lash out in displays of anger and frustration — reactions validating the effort.

In actuality, the chaos has penetrated so deeply into the public political mindset as to make cooperation and unity of focus — much less, tolerance of difference — an impossible obstacle in opposition to greater issues, such as top-heavy State power.

Whether you regard them as harmless miscreants or criminal abusers, the influence wielded through instilling tumult as aptly describes beloved behavior of trolls as it does politicians — who, incidentally, share the trait.

Image: Wikimedia Commons/jalapeno penelope.

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Contributed by Claire Bernish of The Daily Sheeple.

Claire Bernish is a staff writer and reporter for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up – follow Claire’s work at our Facebook or Twitter.

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  • elbustaroyjetspeekerson

    “Trolls, researchers found, possess a worrisome psychologic profile, laced with psychopathy and sadism, as well as a dearth in empathy……”. What, are these psych(o) ‘researchers’ looking in the mirror, AGAIN?

    • ryeryerocco

      Did you intend to prove their point or was that a happy accident?

      • elbustaroyjetspeekerson

        Yup, by seeing how many idiots respond. YOU win!

        • David E

          Trolling accomplished.

        • ryeryerocco

          Sure. Like Pee Wee Herman: “I meant to do that!”

  • Tatiana Covington

    Trolling and spreading all sorts of chaos and disruption are great fun! Fuck empathy, I don’t need it and I never have!

    • ryeryerocco

      You must be very lonely.

      • David E

        problem is, being familiar with this poster, I can say she is not a troll.

        • ryeryerocco

          Still sad. A person who eschews empathy is not a nice person.

          • David E

            Apparently you have no ability to detect sarcasm, even when it is pointed out!

          • ryeryerocco

            It’s hard to detect sarcasm these days with all the trolls out there. But thanks for the insult and have a nice day.

          • David E

            I gave you no insult. Stop trolling why don’t you?

          • ryeryerocco

            No insult? That’s what happens when you lack empathy (or the ability to detect sarcasm).

          • David E


          • ryeryerocco

            It’s not funny when the tables are turned. No malice intended though.

          • David E

            “tables are turned?” You’re in a fantasyland idiot.

            You made a mistake, I pointed it out, you got rude. That’s not “turning the tables” because I never was rude with you. And you’re obviously intending it, so I am ignoring you at this point. Go find someone else to troll.

          • ryeryerocco

            Wow. You sure have a thin skin. Thanks for calling me an idiot. I will be happy to flag your comment now.

          • It is easier to block him, like I did.

          • ryeryerocco

            I’ll let the moderator deal with him. Maybe he’ll get a time out.

          • If you can find one. I became more proactive and have gotten two scumbags banned in two days by reporting them to the webmaster. One of them from this group.

          • wh0u

            Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, blocking/ignoring him is fine, but he did have his own opinion. Trying to get him/her banned is the same emotion communist dictators have, so be careful treading that line.

          • And freedom of speech is up to the website owner and moderators. Both users were violating the respective TOSs and all I did was bring that to their webmaster’s attentions. Since they were both nothing but wacked out trolls, nobody missed them. Communist dictators don’t allow for or accept feedback or comments. Every time I have been banned, it was for telling people the truth, which many of them find insulting, largely because I am not diplomatic enough for them. If more of us spoke the truth forthrightly, the diplomats wouldn’t be able to kill so many in senseless wars.

          • wh0u

            Sarcasm is hard to detect online, the context is extremely important. People have known this since the 90s, get with the program. Your post was not clear of this.

  • Pretty much as nowhere as attacking third world countries that didn’t threaten or attack us does.

  • SP_88

    Don’t feed the trolls. If you ignore them, they will go away.

    • ReverendDraco✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵃᶜᶜᵒᵘᶰᵗ

      But it’s fun, sometimes, watching them have public meltdowns. . .

    • Razedbywolvs

      No we wont.

    • wh0u

      Sadly, no, they don’t go away. Best thing is to overload them.

  • Bas

    Employed by organizations like tax collectors.

  • Razedbywolvs

    hahaha “two-thirds of them female” Women have more white matter in the brain and have more emotional intelligence. Yet when you look at the demographies of the Milgram Obedience Study women “killed” the subject 100% of the time.
    They stacked the deck with women to get the response they wanted to make trolls look bad.

    • Phil_Ossifer

      The study ignored the most obvious point: anonymity. When nobody knows your real identity (or if you think they don’t or can’t know it) some people will throw civility and courtesy in discourse down the crapper. It’s the same with politicians. What they say in public is almost always a lot different from what they say in private when they’re sure they aren’t being overheard or recorded. Anonymity lets them get in touch with their “inner troll.”

      • wh0u

        Honestly, that’s probably true for 99% of people now, regardless of their occupation. The way you speak/act to your mother, the way you speak to your friends, to your coworkers, etc, will always be different.

        • Phil_Ossifer

          Which really doesn’t say much for people in general, does it? There is such a thing as too much honesty, sometimes.

          • g.johnon

            nor should it. i am a firm believer in the core philosophy of firesign theater back in the 60’s: ‘we’re all bozos on this bus”.
            as well as the core philosophy of a recent insurance co. ad” “humans!”

      • ReverendDraco✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵃᶜᶜᵒᵘᶰᵗ

        Who knew that Silence Dogood was a troll?

      • Razedbywolvs

        I don’t think thats an obvious point. There is no real anonymity on the Internet. Or at least not for the average person who’s only protection is a Avatar.

  • HanzP

    Of course the real social problems are intentionally created by full spectrum propaganda, advertising, metadata targeted cognitive manipulations of big data, psyops, etc…who probably funded the research to divert the blame to trolls, as they are unleash new technology control commenting forum…

    “Wundt’s theories had great appeal for the Rothschilds and . . . suited their plans for humanity perfectly. Wundt asserted that humans are devoid of spirit and self-determinism (and hence free will) and that man is just the sum of his experiences. This atheistic, materialist philosophy dominated his approach to study of the human psyche. Indeed in practical terms he virtually denied the existence of the psyche and this enabled him to reduce the study of ‘man’ to an external, physiological examination of stimulus and response. He said:
    ‘The situation-response formula is adequate to cover learning of any sort, and the really influential factors in learning are readiness of the neurones, sequence in time, belongingness and satisfying consequences.'”
    — Ron Chapman, “Dumbing Down US Education: Part II–
    Wundtian Psychology & Rockefeller Finance, Oct 29, 2009

    “Yes, young Americans are energetic, ambitious, enterprising, and good, but their talents and interests and money thrust them not into books and ideas and history and civics, but into a whole other realm and other consciousness. A different social life and a different mental life have formed among them. Technology has bred it, but the result doesn’t tally with the fulsome descriptions of digital empowerment, global awareness, and virtual communities. Instead of opening young American minds to the stores of civilization and science and politics, technology has contracted their horizon to themselves, to the social scene around them. Young people have never been so intensely mindful of and present to one another, so enabled in adolescent contact. Teen images and songs, hot gossip and games, and youth-to-youth communications no longer limited by time or space wrap them up in a generational cocoon reaching all the way into their bedrooms. The autonomy has a cost: the more they attend to themselves, the less they remember the past and envision the future. They have all the advantages of modernity and democracy, but when the gifts of life lead to social joys, not intellectual labor, the minds of the young plateau at 18. The fonts of knowledge are everywhere, but the rising generation is camped in the desert, passing stories, pictures, tunes, texts back and forth, living off the thrill of peer attention. Meanwhile their intellects refuse the cultural and civic inheritance that has made us what we are up to now.”
    — Mark Bauerlein, The Dumbest Generation, 2007

    “We need a program of psychosurgery and political control of our society. The purpose is physical control of the mind. Everyone who deviates from the given norm can be surgically mutilated.
    “The individual may think that the most important reality is his own existence, but this is only his personal point of view. This lacks historical perspective.
    “Man does not have the right to develop his own mind. This kind of liberal orientation has great appeal. We must electrically control the brain. Some day armies and generals will be controlled by electrical stimulation of the brain.”
    Dr. Jose Delgado (MKULTRA experimenter who demonstrated a radio-controlled bull on CNN in 1985)
    — Director of Neuropsychiatry, Yale University Medical School
    Congressional Record No. 26, Vol. 118, February 24, 1974

    “In our dream, we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand. The present educational conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or science. We are not to raise up from among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians. Nor will we cherish even the humbler ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we now have ample supply.”
    — Rockefeller Foundation Director of Charity, Frederick Gates, 1913

  • TrevorD

    Good article and just at the right time. Difficult to have a discussion at the moment especially on this site without some multi-named foul mouthed trolls spreading their venom.
    Ya, we know who you are. Such a shame as this was a good forum followed by some really great people who wanted an exchange of ideas, not an exchange of personal or paid provoctism or as an outlet for pure hatred and anger. Go to `Infowars` fo that or just get help maybe.

  • TrevorD


  • g.johnon

    “researchers” and cbs news! oh boy we be doin da science now!

    anyone else feel the seeds of another witch hunt beginning to sprout?

  • OldPoorRichard

    It may just be attraction to chaos. Chaos is exciting. Contributing to chaos might be a form of thrill-seeking for trolls.