Self-serving biases, such as the better-than-average effect mean that few of us regard ourselves as online trolls, and any behavior that would indicate otherwise is conveniently forgotten or remembered only hazily (see, Alicke and Govorun, 2005; Kouchaki and Gino, 2016). Anonymous polls suggest that more than ¼ of Americans have engaged in trolling behavior, although the true figure is likely to be higher (Gammon, 2014). There is no way to defend the actions of online trolls, that is not the aim of this post, I simply suggest that we examine some of our attitudes towards trolls and reflect on the psychological processes that might be at play.
Alicke, M. D., & Govorun, O. (2005). The better-than-average effect. The self in social judgment, 1, 85-106.
Binns, A. (2012). DON'T FEED THE TROLLS! Managing troublemakers in magazines' online communities. Journalism Practice, 6(4), 547-562.
Bishop, J. (2014). Representations of ‘trolls’ in mass media communication: a review of media-texts and moral panics relating to ‘internet trolling’. International Journal of Web Based Communities, 10(1), 7-24.
Bond, M. (2007). The Most Dangerous Animal: Human nature and the origins of war. New Scientist, 195(2619), 51.
Buckels, E. E., Trapnell, P. D., & Paulhus, D. L. (2014). Trolls just want to have fun. Personality and individual Differences, 67, 97-102.
Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion. New York: Collins.
Furnham, A., Richards, S. C., & Paulhus, D. L. (2013). The Dark Triad of personality: A 10 year review. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 7(3), 199-216.
A. 2014. Over a quarter of Americans have made malicious online comments. YouGov, October 20, 2014.
Zimbardo, P. G. (2004). A situationist perspective on the psychology of evil: Understanding how good people are transformed into perpetrators. In A. Miller (Ed.), The social psychology of good and evil (pp. 21–50) New York: Guilford.