Identifying Internet Trolls & Their Characteristics

Once an Internet troll picks their target they will spread accusations and will ruin the reputation of their target. In some cases, their actions have been so damaging, they’ve even caused suicide.

Trolls are motivated by a need for attention and get their high by inflicting pain on others.

According to an article on Big Think, two Australian researches conducted a study in order to describe the personality profile of the average internet troll.

“What they found was that men were far more likely to become trolls. They had higher levels of psychopathy and sadism, which is what ultimately predicted trolling. Trolls aren’t necessarily devoid of empathy. Instead, they have high levels of cognitive empathy, or understanding the emotions of others, but far less affective empathy, or internalizing those emotions, sort of feeling them for yourself.

Their psychopathic tendencies tended to outweigh total empathy. Trolls usually had poor social skills, too. Rather than act as an outlet for pent-up frustration, researchers found that trolling actually ended in negative psychological outcomes for the troll, even though they were the perpetrator.

Researchers wrote that, “Trolls employ an empathic strategy of predicting and recognizing the emotional suffering of their victims, while abstaining from the experience of these negative emotions. Thus, trolls appear to be master manipulators of both cyber-settings and their victims' emotions.”

 Listen to Jonathan Zittrain, Co-founder of Berkman Center for Internet & Society, discuss possible future solutions that could help stop or at least reduce the reach of trolls


The LoveEd Movement provides outreach and education for older teens and millennials on the dangers they face on and off-line as well as viable solutions for helping older teens and millennials make healthy relationship choices.

Please check out our Compassionate Dialogues Curriculum for teachers and school personnel to use with pre-teens, teens and millennials who are experiencing distress, depression, or are suicidal or homicidal.