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Many Internet Trolls Are 'Everyday Sadists', Research Finds

Update Date: Apr 13, 2014 10:26 PM EDT

People who've have encountered Internet trolls those vile, racist, sexist and often profane people who gorge themselves on others' misery, might be psychologically disturbed, a new research is suggesting. 

According to research, trolls gleefully spew their "e-bile" using smartphone apps online comments, texts or social media sites only for cruelty. 

"It happens every night," said Darla Jaye, a radio talk show host in Kansas City whose conservative views often serve as a lightning rod for trolls, in a press release. "I get stuff on the text line all the time where people swear at me and call me the foulest names. ... It's easy to throw something out there when you're anonymous. That is the thing about the Internet, especially about trolls. Most of these people are cowards."

The research further suggested after looking into the psychological underpinnings of trolls that they might be 'sadists' was well. 

"We use the term 'everyday sadist' to emphasize that we are referring to sub-clinical levels of sadism, and not the more extreme forms that are seen in serial killers and criminals," said psychologist Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and the first of three authors of the paper on troll personality, in the press release. 

"The essential aspect of sadism," Buckels said in an email, according to Medical Express, "is enjoyment of cruelty. Persons high in sadism gain some emotional benefit from causing or simply observing others' suffering."

The study concluded that people who rated highest on the scales of narcissism, psychopathology, Machiavellianism and sadism - highest of all for the trait of sadism - were the same people who were trolls. 

"Our research suggests that trolls also want to be mean to people in real life," Buckels added in the press release. "Perhaps trolling online allows them to satisfy their appetites for cruelty without it creeping into real life."

"As someone recently suggested to me, maybe we should feed the trolls."

The findings of the study has been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

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