For God’s sake people, ignore the stupid trolls. Their motive in life is to get a rise out of someone, period. They’ll say anything to get that.
Yes, there is research supporting that.
Multiple studies have found a link to what is known as the “Dark Tetrad” of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism. In other words, “it’s all about me,” “I will say whatever I need to,” “I have no empathy for others,” and “I like hurting people.” Thus, writing posts on GoComics because it makes them feel self-important, and they can easily get the Featured Comment by arousing outrage – regardless of the opinion, which they don’t care about – which causes other people to respond.
One study found that trolls would even self-identify because it fit their profile, and confirmed a relationship between trolling and the Dark Tetrad. Reference below:
Buckels, Erin E., Paul D. Trapnell, and Delroy L. Paulhus. “Trolls just want to have fun.” Personality and Individual Differences 67 (2014): 97-102.
One study found a particularly strong correlation between online trolling and sadism, even developing an “iTroll questionnaire.” They found, in fact, that sadism was the pivotal point, because it came out even when you controlled for other traits.
Paul D. Trapnell, Tamara Andjelovic, Delroy L. Paulhus. (2019). “Internet trolling and everyday sadism: Parallel effects on pain perception and moral judgment.” Journal of Personality, Vol. 87, Issue 2 (April 2019), pp 328-340. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jopy.12393
In my own subfield of motivational psychology, we would identify this as “Personalized Power motive” – getting strong emotional satisfaction from having an impact on or influence on individuals, groups, or the world at large, but without the self-restraint that would lead to positive or empowering impact. In other words, “it makes me feel strong to hurt you.”
And here’s #45!