A new Canadian study found online trolling is a technological form of sadism. In other words, its practitioners just enjoy being mean on the Internet.
Researchers from the University of Winnipeg and University of British Columbia had 1,215 people complete surveys about their online commenting style.
Online trolls post comments or messages meant to start arguments or get an emotional reaction from others.
"Trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism," the study, titled Trolls just want to have fun, says.
The same correlation didn't exist for users who liked other activities such as chatting or debating, and the strongest association was with trolling and sadism.
"We found clear evidence that sadists tend to troll because they enjoy it," the researchers said.