Does Dexter Morgan spend his time submitting flamebait posts on 4Chan when he’s not murdering people? That’s the implication of a new study flagged by The Washington Post showing that people who frequently go online with sole purpose of antagonizing others just for the sake of starting conflicts are much more likely to exhibit sadistic and even psychopathic behavior in their offline lives.
In yet another instance of science belatedly confirming what common sense has already told us, a new paper from researchers at three Canadian universities concludes that Internet trolls aren’t just mean — they’re sadists and psychopaths. The paper, published last week in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, surveyed a group of several hundred on their Internet behaviors and personal traits. It found that trolling correlated with higher rates of sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, a certain lack of scruples when it comes to deceiving or manipulating other people.