Trolling study seeks participants

Young adults are now the focus for social media trolling research

Having learnt what might make young trolls tick, researchers at the University of Southern Queensland are now shifting their focus to young adults.

The University is seeking adults aged 18-29 to participate in an online survey, even if they haven’t participated in or experienced trolling.

Trolling is an online antisocial behaviour that is qualitatively distinct from cyberbullying and appears to have different motivators.

The survey is part of an effort to understand better the relationship between trolling behaviours and individual characteristics such as personality, empathy and general well-being.

The researchers want to build on results from their previous study that found Australian adolescents (aged 13-18) who troll on social media were more likely to enjoy antisocial interpersonal interactions (negative social potency) than to enjoy causing harm (sadism).

“We still have much to learn about trolling,” project lead Dr Jessica Marrington said.

“Given the behaviour is associated with a range of negative consequences for both the instigator and their target, understanding what drives the behaviour is key for prevention and management.”

Dr Marrington said the research team was especially interested in hearing from respondents aged 18-29, known as emerging adulthood, as little is known about this group’s trolling behaviours.

“Our recent research with adolescents highlighted some key differences from previously studied adult samples,” she said.

“By shifting our attention to a younger sample of adults, we can explore the potential role that age, or developmental factors associated with age, may play in trolling behaviours.”

Dr Marrington said results from this study could inform strategies to help prevent and manage harmful trolling behaviours.

“This study will also ask for information such as where people are experiencing trolling behaviours, therefore providing platform-specific insights,” she said.

“Collectively, this information will provide a better understanding of why people troll and where it happens, with the hope this data will assist in developing and tailoring platform-specific trolling prevention and management strategies.”

The survey takes about 20-30 minutes to complete and will remain open until August 18.

Access the survey.

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