Study: Facebook Trolls Are Just Narcissist Men With Internet Access

"Men's more antisocial use of Facebook is explained in part by their greater narcissism."
“When narcissists use Facebook, they tend to do so for self-promoting content."
“When narcissists use Facebook, they tend to do so for self-promoting content."
SIphotography via Getty Images

A recent study has linked narcissism with Facebook trolling, and found that, because men are more likely to be narcissists than women in the first place, they are also more likely than women to harass others online and engage in antisocial online behavior such as cyberbullying, aggressively retaliating against negative comments and attention-seeking.

The study, to be published in the December issue of Computers in Human Behavior, surveyed 573 Facebook users to test for traits of narcissism, and then monitored participants’ Facebook usage to see if there was a link between sex and antisocial online behavior.

The study’s authors found that men were more likely than women to possess narcissistic traits, and that those traits manifested in increased antisocial online behavior, including antisocial motivations for using Facebook.

“The link between narcissism and stronger antisocial motives for using Facebook may be situated within the general tendency of narcissists to hold extremely positive self-views that are reliant on external social feedback as well as their hostile and exploitative behavior,” the authors wrote. “When narcissists use Facebook, they tend to do so for self-promoting content, including frequent Facebook status updates, and brag about their achievements in their updates.” Men are also more likely to respond aggressively, or cyberbully, when they are disagreed with or when they see a negative comment.

Women, on the other hand, are found to have used Facebook for more “prosocial” reasons, like community building and connecting with others.

“Women are more likely to use Facebook to maintain existing relationships relative to men: they are more likely to use it to express emotional support, engage in more prosocial interactions, and to communicate,” the authors said.

The authors also point out that societal gender roles have a role to play in all of this: “One explanation may be that as the result of gender stereotyping, agentic characteristics such as competitiveness, need for achievement, and dominance tend to be encouraged in the socialization of men, and punished in women,” they wrote.

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