How an Internet Troll Thinks [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Brian Wallace President and Founder, NowSourcing

Posted on February 6th 2013

How an Internet Troll Thinks [INFOGRAPHIC]

It’s fascinating getting inside the mind and psyche of an Internet troll. How exactly do these trolls think? Deindividuation is central to understanding their thought process—the term describes that people are less likely to stick to social norms when we reduce our sense of our own identity. Let’s take a look at email communication. Psychologically, we are “distant” from the person we’re talking to and less focused on our own identity in an email. As a result, we’re more prone to exhibiting aggressive behavior.

Simple anonymity offers trolls a sense of safety, security, and protection in the online sphere. It also allows one to misrepresent him or herself to the world. However, even if this anonymity is removed, the inability to physically see the person on the other end causes trolls to act rudely and aggressively. This may include, for example, posting mean comments on a Facebook status. Trolls often use the Internet to voice complaints, “throw their opinions out,” and then simply run away. According to Dr. David Solly at University of the Rockies, complaining (whether on the Web or any other form) releases chemicals in the brain and body, helping us counteract stress and feel better physically.

Trolls often see the Web as a method of escapism from the mundane concerns of daily life. They see the online sphere as a place where the normal rules of social interaction do not apply. To learn more about how an Internet troll typically thinks and behaves, check out the infographic below presented by BestPsychologySchoolsOnline.

 

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Brian Wallace

President and Founder, NowSourcing

Brian Wallace is the President of NowSourcing, Inc., a premier social media firm specializing in infographic design, development and content marketing promotion. The company is based in Louisville, KY and works with companies that range from small business to Fortune 500.

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Comments

Lindsey Weedston
Posted on February 6th 2013 at 6:16PM

This is fascinating stuff. I was most interested in the Narcissism section. I've come into online spaces before with opinions that were contrary to the general opinion of the forum (not to troll, of coures), and found that reasonable discourse was impossible in these situations. It was kind of like a group narcissism took hold, and because I was against the general consent, I was shouted down, despite my best efforts to calmly present evidence and ask for a real discussion. I have a feeling there's a psychological term for this, but I can't remember what it is.

I'd also like to learn more about this "mock troll" phenomenon. I've not heard of that before.

Jody Raines
Posted on March 20th 2013 at 3:57PM

Great information and rationale for understanding trolls.  I am somewhat amazed that people have to resort to negative comments or posts to get attention.  I agree with Lindsey - it has much to do with narcissim and perhaps even is a way for the troll to prove his or her self worth.  For the troll, any attention is good, regardless of whether it's positive or negative. Just responding to the troll becomes food for further engagement.  It makes you wonder what is lacking in the person's personal growth or family life that evokes this kind of behavior. 

I suspect the best response is to ignore the troll, although if they become desperate will they become more aggressive?  Or will they move on to other, more interesting groups that will respond to their ignorant tactics?