Men more likely to be online trolls due to narcissism

While women use social media with prosocial motives, men tend to be antisocial

Rachel Hosie
Friday 15 September 2017 09:19 BST
(Getty Images)

In news that will come as no surprise to any woman who has ever used the internet, a study has found that men are more likely to be trolls and online bullies.

What’s more, this may be because they’re more narcissistic.

There are two main ways in which people use social media - in the case of this study, Facebook. Some are prosocial, looking to build relationships and connect with others in a positive way. Others are antisocial, seeking attention online and trolling.

Researchers from Brunel University and Goldsmiths, University of London have found that men are more likely than women to use Facebook with antisocial motives.

To reach their conclusions, 573 US adults were sent an online survey asking them to rate themselves on a 13-point narcissistic personality scale. They were also asked about their motives for using Facebook.

Examples of antisocial behaviour included statements saying “I use Facebook to make people feel jealous,” “I use Facebook to be mean to people” and “I use Facebook to post sexy pictures of myself.”

Statements demonstrating prosocial behaviour included “I use Facebook 'like' and 'comment' functions to show support for others,” “I use Facebook to communicate with people I do not often see” and “I use Facebook to see what other people are up to.”

Results revealed that men reported more antisocial motives for using Facebook than women, which was put down to their greater narcissism.

Women reported more prosocial motives, which was explained by their more relational self-construal.

According to Brunel, this is the first study to find a link between narcissism and trolling.

“We were interested to study this area after we ourselves were trolled online in response to some of our previously published research,” explains Goldsmiths co-author Dr. Nelli Ferenczi. “This made us wonder if men are more likely to troll then women, and why.”

Of course, women can still be nasty online, but it’s rarer.

Why does narcissism lead to trolling though?

“People with narcissistic tendencies may behave in hostile ways as a response to comments they perceive are negative,” Ferenczi explains. “They may also behave in hostile ways because they are prone to aggression and manipulative behaviour.

“Underlying a hostile action might be the intent to re-establish power and self-esteem. Finally, some research indicates that narcissism is linked with a drive for negative social influence and power which may also explain in part the attraction of hostile attention.”

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