To troll or not to troll: Young adults’ anti-social behaviour on social media

Soares, F. B., Gruzd, A., Jacobson, J., & Hodson, J. (2023). To troll or not to troll: Young adults’ anti-social behaviour on social media. PLOS ONE, 18(5).


Open access: Yes

Notes: In this study, Soares et al. sought to analyze the factors associated with young adults being perpetrators of anti-social behaviour when using social media. More specifically, they focused on four constructs: online disinhibition, motivations for cyber-aggression, self-esteem, and empathy. In their results, they found that young adults engage in anti-social behaviour on digital platforms for fun (that is, recreation) and for social approval (that is, for social rewards). They also found that those with higher cognitive empathy (the capacity to understand others’ emotions) are less likely to enact violence on social media. It is also particularly interesting the constructs not associated with online anti-social behaviour, such as anonymity, asynchronicity, perceptions of social norms, or self-esteem. This, they note, emphasizes that “the spike in online anti-social behaviour is less about online disinhibition and more about how most social interactions moved to the online environment. Instead of being a consequence of the online environment, anti-social behaviour ismore likely motivated by the need for social approval, group bonding, fun and excitement.” (p. 12). Overall, this study is a necessary and welcome addition to better understand why perpetrators of online violence exercise such anti-social behaviour.

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