The psychology of the troll?

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The psychology of the troll?

#1  Postby Trenton » Jan 24, 2013 2:39 am

So what is trolling, we're all capable of it, having a bad day set out to provoke someone, but that is not what I mean, I'm talking about the consistent troll, why do they do what they do, why are they so in need of attention that they troll all the time? What is that strange psychological disorder we call trolling?

A subject that fascinates me, I am a psychology post grad, and I would like some insight into what you people think about these people? I have my own ideas, but I am always open to knew opinions, by the way this is not what my PhD is about, it's just a hobby. :)
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#2  Postby reddix » Jan 24, 2013 2:47 am

:coffee:
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#3  Postby Trenton » Jan 24, 2013 10:58 pm

Ok well no one understands trolls it seems, it's not an Earth shattering conclusion but it is about right.

This is my first thread, shot down in flames, actually not shot down in flames if you catch my drift. :)
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#4  Postby Mazille » Jan 24, 2013 11:13 pm

There once was a user on the RD forum (this one's sorta-predecessor) who posted a very well written and long piece on trolls and their motivations there. Fucked if I can find it, but maybe someone here still has it, or knows where it can be found.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#5  Postby Varangian » Jan 24, 2013 11:16 pm

I think many of them just like to be assholes in order to blow off steam.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#6  Postby scott1328 » Jan 24, 2013 11:23 pm

Freedom without consequences.

A metaphor for a libertarian's utopia.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#7  Postby surreptitious57 » Jan 24, 2013 11:27 pm

Trenton wrote:
OK well no one understands trolls it seems - it is not an Earth shattering conclusion but it is about right

I know two things about trolls and one of them is that detection is self defeating so the really awesome ones never get caught now. But given the size of the net they can go from site to site quite effortlessly. The most famous troll in atheism is of course David Mabus who apparently hates us with unbelievable malice and has done time for it too. But he is probably way off the scale. I personally do not see the point in them myself because i think the net is a fantastically wonderful tool for communication and especially so on rational sites where ideas should be taken apart and absolutely so too. But trolls ? Yes we have had them but like all sites they get banned when discovered which is what I meant about detection being self defeating. Anyway that is about as much as I can help you with now. I wish I could give you more but I am not or have ever been or shall ever be a troll now. So my knowledge of their modus operandi is a tad on the short side. So all that remains is to welcome you to the Skep ship while you patiently wait for some to turn up and be interviewed now. One sugar or two, by the way ?
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#8  Postby CookieJon » Jan 24, 2013 11:30 pm

Trenton wrote:Ok well no one understands trolls it seems, it's not an Earth shattering conclusion but it is about right.

This is my first thread, shot down in flames, actually not shot down in flames if you catch my drift. :)

Oh I'm not qualified at all to comment, but since you're asking for opinions only my guess would be that it's gratifying to be able to exert power over people with little effort; Pushing buttons (literally) to make them dance is so much easier than entering politics, writing books, etc. or anything else that requires more than a little work to move people. That sort of thing? Why do arsonists light bushfires? I imagine it's a similar thing.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#9  Postby Ironclad » Jan 25, 2013 12:35 am

Thinking back a couple of years, someone on another board actually came out as a troll & stated that they were 'giving it up for good'. I can't remember their name but they got great interest from a couple of members who wanted to understand the motivation etc.
They were 'known' as a troll & had grated many members for a long time, but it seemed they just ran out of steam & had gotten soused to the members they wanted to join in properly, dropping the BS & make friends.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#10  Postby nunnington » Jan 25, 2013 12:45 am

I did actually write a short piece on trolls, after working as a mod, not on this forum, and I got sort of interested in them. There are obviously different types, for example, there are some really nutty ones, and some very bright ones.

However, I noticed the following:

1. narcissism - they want people to talk about them a lot.
2. incontinent - some of them spew their emotions around, but not all of them.
3. inflammatory - this is pretty standard, and is often the definition of trolling.
4. aggressive (connects with 3).
5. paranoid - some of them see bad people at work in every forum. Of course, they set it up also. They need enemies.
6. personalized - they often want to reduce the discussion to very personal terms and accusations.
7. rage and envy - seem quite common.

I think these factors are either/or; I mean you don't find them all at once.

As to why people troll, I guess they like manipulation, they may be sadistic, controlling, envious, full of negativity, and kind of cold. But I guess some do it for fun.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#11  Postby Ironclad » Jan 25, 2013 12:53 am

Narcissistic sociopaths?
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#12  Postby nunnington » Jan 25, 2013 12:55 am

Damn, that was accurate, and shorter than mine.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#13  Postby Ironclad » Jan 25, 2013 1:08 am

:D I did pinch one of your words, then just added one. Plagiarism, it's a knack!
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#14  Postby Nostalgia » Jan 25, 2013 1:20 am

I assume as with most voluntary repeated behaviour (good or bad) that at it's source trolling involves reward of actions by a pleasant chemical release in the brain. That's why they do it so much.

Also, the internet is something completely knew to the human psyche. Before people couldn't act like dicks all the time because they'd get thrown out of the tribe. The net allows them to ask like dicks, get the corresponding physiological reward when they get a rise out of someone else, and not have it affect their real lives.

As your in the UK Trenton and if you haven't seen it already BBC 3 did a fairly interesting documentary about Kevin Bacon (the ex-Blue Peter presenter not the American actor) tracking down his own internet trolls and talking to victims of excessive trolling that might be worth finding on iPlayer.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#15  Postby nunnington » Jan 25, 2013 9:59 am

Yes, the internet permits dissociation. That is, you can wind people up in secret, and don't have to face them personally. Probably, there has been behaviour like this, pre-internet, for example in the various forms of banter and practical jokes, which seem quite common in male groups, but it can now be completely detached. Anecdotally, I do recall meeting various people who had a sort of sadistic manipulative ability, but now they can do it 24 hours, if they want.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#16  Postby kennyc » Jan 25, 2013 12:17 pm

Yes a topic I'm fascinated with as well.

This post has some truth: http://www.rationalskepticism.org/socia ... l#p1608447

and yes it is a narcissistic attention. It makes them feel important.

As a takeoff on surreptitious57's post I think some of the worst trolls are those not 'detected' as such. The ones that are just constantly argumentative for that reason alone - argument. They really have nothing to say but will object to others postings and just be a pita. Sometimes by continually reposting the same shit over and over. This may not fit the definition of Troll that you have in mind --- the clearly obvious troll, but they are trolls never-the-less and there are a number of them here and on any internet forum.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#17  Postby nunnington » Jan 25, 2013 12:46 pm

There are an interesting group who stay just within the rules, but sort of flirt with them. This seems to be quite skilled behaviour, but I suppose there are similar features of sadistic manipulation or control of others. As a mod, they drive you mad, since you can never quite pin them to the wall. But many forums have rules on harassment, which might nail them in the end. Mods of course also have atavistic and sadistic desires, but here they are sublimated!
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#18  Postby The_Piper » Jan 25, 2013 1:03 pm

I'd think there would be vastly different motivations at play for each individual.
Troll has some different sub-species. :lol:
I get a kick out of some trolls and their trollings. Not that people are being wound-up, but at the thought of the devious specimen capable of this behavior.
(I'm not the finest model of sanity myself, so no one thinks I'm being a snob.)
I doubt that narcissism or sociopathy is present in nearly every troll. Perhaps in the ones over 40, it is. :shifty: (joking)

There are tv and radio personalities who are equivalent to trolls, as well as journalists.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#19  Postby nunnington » Jan 25, 2013 1:15 pm

Trollus norvegicus norvegicus is the commonest sub-species, I believe. No insult to Norwegians, by the way, just rats.
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Re: The psychology of the troll?

#20  Postby The_Piper » Jan 25, 2013 1:23 pm

nunnington wrote:Trollus norvegicus norvegicus is the commonest sub-species, I believe. No insult to Norwegians, by the way, just rats.

:lol: That sub-species can easily be detected by their continually growing incisors.
Anyone can get wound-up, but I usually don't let trolling freak me out too much. It's the borderline trolls who usually get me. I mistake them for giving a damn and reply.
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