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Why Do Trolls Troll

The Psychology Of The Cyber Troll

By Susan F WeimerPublished about a year ago 4 min read
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No doubt you've encountered them online. Mostly hanging out in forums and groups dedicated to specific subjects. You'll find them online in religious groups, political groups, and other specialized groups. They will be an anti-whatever group they are trolling. It's the cyber troll.

Photo by mrdynamite from Deviant Art

First, let's define trolling. "In scientific literature, internet trolling is defined as malicious online behavior, characterized by the aggressive and deliberate provocation of others. “Trolls” seek to provoke, upset and harm others via inflammatory messages and posts." Quote from

The desire to hurt others and the sense of superiority they feel towards the target motivate cyber trolls. Sadism is one of the key factors involved in trolling. The person experiences pleasure from being cruel and demeaning others.

What is a sadist? Someone with Sadistic Personality Disorder.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels (edited by author defines sadistic personality disorder as "Unusually harsh treatment/discipline towards someone under their control. Amusement from witnessing the psychological/physical pain of others, including animals. Has lied to harm/inflict pain on others. Operates through intimidation or terror to get others to comply."

Cyber trolls usually have an inflated ego, believing they have every right to attack the beliefs of others. This is because they honestly think they are better than everyone else and smarter than everyone else. They deem themselves right, and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong.

Usually, the troll has some "idealistic" belief they feel they are protecting. Some of these ideologies can be racism, religion, gender, politics, health, etc. The list continues on and on.

When they find a person or group with a viewpoint that challenges what they believe, they attack. They have no remorse, no conscience, and feel justified in what they do.

Photo by Felipe from Pixabay

They thoroughly enjoy what they do since they believe they are superior and love to see others upset by something they said.

Psychology Today describes internet trolls as "Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists".

According to "Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others."

These are people who always have to be the center of attention. They have no problem hurting others to get what they want and will go to any lengths to achieve it.

Experts define psychopathy as "a condition characterized by the absence of empathy and the blunting of other affective states. Callousness, detachment, and a lack of empathy enable psychopaths to be highly manipulative." Quote from Psychology today.

Image by GraphicMama-team from Pixabay

Psychopaths can act like normal people, which makes them difficult to spot. Though they appear to be normal and charming, their true nature is one of total depravity. They have no conscience.

Experts have found internet trolls have what is called the dark tetrad. Science Direct says "the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores. Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior." says: "Machiavellianism in psychology refers to a personality trait that sees a person so focused on their own interests they will manipulate, deceive, and exploit others to achieve their goals."

Some cyber trolls are proud to be a troll. They feel as if they have made some grand achievement similar to winning the first-place prize in a highly publicized contest.

In conclusion:

Cyber trolls have a mental disorder called the dark tetrad.

I think the worst thing you can do to a cyber troll is not pay attention to them. Having dark tetrad disorder, they feed off attention and the pain of others. If they aren't getting the gratification they are seeking, they will most likely move on to their next mark.


The -

Psychology Today:

Science Direct:

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personality disorder

About the Creator

Susan F Weimer

I live in a rural area in upstate New York with my fiancé and three dogs. Mine is a simple life filled with simple pleasures.

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