The next meeting of the IRN will take place on Wednesday April 4 from 5:00-6:30pm in rm 302 at the Munk School (1 Devonshire Pl). Andrew Nevin, a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Toronto will be presenting his research.
Cyber-Psychopathy and Online Misconduct
Currently, there is a lack of research investigating how the unique structural conditions of cyberspace, such as anonymity, asynchronicity, and normlessness, may influence incidences of cyber-deviance. To fill this gap, I hypothesize a concept I call “cyber-psychopathy”, which is an expression of ‘dark’ e-personality that may serve as a potential mediator between such Internet characteristics and online misconduct behaviours. In this study, I quantitatively test the validity of cyber-psychopathy, namely the notion that psychopathic traits, on average, may be expressed at higher levels when in online environments. Analyses of data from 2015 have shown support for this idea–when controlling for social context, individuals report higher psychopathy scores online than offline, which is especially pronounced in male subsamples. Further multivariate models demonstrated the role of cyber-psychopathy in subsequently predicting both increased acceptability and greater tendencies toward behaviours such as cyber-stalking, trolling, flaming, and digital piracy. Implications from these findings suggest a need to foster empathy and close the psychological distance between netizens, as well as to understand the internet as a real social space facilitating interactions between real people. Overall, this research has served as a pilot study for my dissertation, which aims to replicate and extend these findings in a nationally representative sample of Canadian internet users.