An Exploratory Study of Psychosocial Factors that are Related to Trolling Behaviors on Social Media
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The purpose of this study was to explore the demographic factors, social media behaviors, and psychosocial factors most associated with trolling behaviors on social media. Although minimal research has been done on trolling behaviors, previous literature on bullying and other malicious online behaviors has shown several social media and psychosocial factors associated with the behaviors. Methods: A total of 504 psychology and mass communication students from Texas State University were recruited for the study. Participants were asked to complete a survey in which they responded to questions about demographics and social media, as well as tendencies, and questions from a set of validated personality and psychosocial instruments. Based on their responses to three specific social media behavior questions, the participants were then placed into two groups: those who exhibit trolling behaviors (ETB) and those who do not exhibit trolling behaviors (NETB). Results: Based on the final regression model, males were more likely to exhibit trolling behaviors. For social media behaviors, both greater need for social media and greater likelihood to make downward comparisons were found to be significant predictors of trolling behaviors. Lack of perspective taking, a subscale of the empathy measure, was also found to be a significant indicator of trolling behaviors. Conclusions: Results from this study suggest further research should be done in examining predictors of trolling behaviors on social media in order to gain a better understanding of the emerging malicious online behavior.