We already know Internet trolls are jerks. Now, thanks to a video on YouTube channel AsapScience, we know a little bit more about why, CNET reports. In short, Internet trolls exhibit "dark traits," such as Machiavellianism, narcissism, and, "very high levels of sadism," which means they "have fun distressing others by being argumentative and disruptive." The video is based on a research paper from 2014 that found 5.6% of 1,215 survey respondents self-identified as Internet trolls, or at least fessed up to enjoying trolling activities. CNET notes that it's safe to assume that some trolls would not self-identify, so the true percentage is likely higher.
Dark traits notwithstanding, AsapScience reassures us that trolls "aren't necessarily serial killers or bad people." However, "they get an emotional reward when causing or observing the suffering of others." According to the research paper, the troll persona reflects both a person's actual personality and their ideal self, concluding that, "for those with sadistic personalities, that ideal self may be a villain of chaos and mayhem—the online trickster we fear, envy, and love to hate: the cyber-troll." So how do you vanquish a troll? "Ignore them," AsapScience says, "and you're likely to diminish their effort." (Read more internet troll stories.)