Differentiating Cyberbullies and Internet Trolls by Personality Characteristics and Self-Esteem

Lauren A Zezulka, Kathryn C Seigfried-Spellar


Cyberbullying and internet trolling are both forms of online aggression or cyberharassment; however, research has yet to assess the prevalence of these behaviors in relationship to one another.  In addition, the current study was the first to investigate whether individual differences and self-esteem discerned between self-reported cyberbullies and/or internet trolls (i.e., Never engaged in either, Cyberbully-only, Troll-only, Both Cyberbully and Troll).  Of 308 respondents solicited from Mechanical Turk, 70 engaged in cyberbullying behaviors, 20 engaged in only trolling behaviors, 129 self-reported both behaviors, and 89 self-reported neither behavior.  Results yielded low self-esteem, low conscientiousness, and low internal moral values for both cyberbullying and trolling behaviors.  However, there were differentiating factors between individuals who only engaged in cyberbullying behaviors (high on neuroticism) vs. trolling-only behaviors (high on openness to experience).  Individuals who engaged in both behaviors scored higher on extraversion, lower on agreeableness, and lower on self-esteem compared to individuals who engaged in neither behavior.


Cyberbullying, Internet Trolling, Electronic Harassment, Self-Esteem, Individual Differences, Personality

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