Nobody likes an internet troll, but it's been possible to take comfort in the idea most of them are just clowning around. Unfortunately, new research suggests that's not the case — trolls' personalities correlate highly with sadism. A new study by Erin Buckels and her colleagues at the University of Manitoba found that trolls' personalities are strongly linked to personality traits that form what some psychologists call the Dark Tetrad: sadism, narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.
Moreover, the more time a person spends commenting on the internet each day, the more likely it is that the person will demonstrate Dark Tetrad traits. As recounted by Slate, only 5.6 percent of survey respondents copped to engaging in troll behavior. But those who did demonstrated a strong relationship with sadism in particular. "Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others," the study's authors write. "Sadists just want to have fun ... and the internet is their playground!"