psychology paper picked up by Slate suggests that maybe there's more to bad behavior on the internet than previously thought. Researchers asked study participants to evaluate what they found most fun about commenting on the internet, then gave those same participants a personality test to determine their levels of sadism, narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism -- the "dark tetrad" of antisocial personality traits. (One of the agree/disagree statements on the personality exam? "I enjoy griefing other players in multiplayer games.") The researchers found a significant correlation between those who flagged as sadists and those who claimed to enjoy trolling and expressed "sadistic glee at the distress of others."
While the study focused on the 5% of participants who cause comment moderators the most grief on the internet, over here in MMOland I'm wondering whether this study would map equally well to griefers in video games since we might define griefing in a virtual world the same way: causing someone distress because it's pleasurable for the griefer. That guy who ganks your lowbie and corpse camps you for an hour might not be so socially well-adjusted in the real world after all, in spite of what griefer-apologists have been claiming all these years. What do you folks think? Does griefing in MMOs reflect a sinister personality?
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