Under the bridge: An in-depth examination of online trolling in the gaming context

Chrissy Cook, Juliëtte Schaafsma, Marjolijn Antheunis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Trolling is a subject of apparent academic confusion; the few studies conducted thus far yielded a variety of conflicting definitions regarding what constitutes trolling behaviour and little information regarding trolling motivations. In order to shed further light on this phenomenon, the present study aimed to (1) determine which behaviours actual trolls consider as trolling, (2) explore the motivations behind trolling, and (3) examine the online community’s response to trolling as perceived by the troll. After performing semi-structured interviews with 22 self-confessed trolls, we found that there is a variety of behaviours trolls consider trolling which can now be put in clear categories based on target and method. Three key motivations to troll emerged: personal enjoyment, revenge, and thrill-seeking. Trolling also appears to be a cyclical, self-perpetuating phenomenon enabled by the online community at large. Theoretical implications for future trolling research are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3323-3340
Number of pages18
JournalNew Media & Society
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • interviews
  • motivation
  • trolling
  • online community
  • online games


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