Unmasking Trolls - PsychTests' Study Reveals That Insensitive People Lack Social & Emotional Competencies

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A new study by PsychTests.com reveals that a tendency to be insensitive, a common trait of online trolls, is mired in issues that go beyond plain old discourtesy.

There are ways to express a contrary opinion without being harsh, hostile, or offensive to others.

A lack of social sensitivity and finesse with people, offline or online, comes down to poor social skills.

Insensitive people are either unable to take that extra moment to assess the content or form of what they say, or simply don’t care enough to do so.

Online “trolls” - the human kind that is, not the “bots” run by an algorithm rather than a real person - get a thrill from stirring up controversy and conflict, offending people in the most distasteful manner possible, and making light of sobering topics like suicide and sexual assault. The luxury of being able to create social media accounts with an endless array of emails and fake names provides not just anonymity, but also protection against backlash. If one account gets banned, a person needs only create a new one. So what triggers people to spew hurtful things without compunction? Research from PsychTests reveals that a tendency to be insensitive - to social cues, to people’s feelings, to unspoken social rules, to decorum - isn’t just about a lack of social etiquette.

Analyzing data from 1,344 people who took the Self-Control & Self-Monitoring Test, PsychTests’ researchers looked at the attitudes, traits, and behavior patterns of people who have been labeled “insensitive” by friends, family, and colleagues. Here’s what PsychTests’ study reveals about people plagued by “verbal diarrhea”:


  •     13% of insensitive people can’t tell when a person they are speaking to is uncomfortable or offended. They are unable to pick up on body language cues or read people’s facial expressions (compared to 4% of sensitive people).
  • 12% are unable to adjust their behavior to fit the social situations they find themselves in. This means that they will not censure their words or behavior, regardless of who they are speaking to, be it a loved one, a stranger, or the Pope (compared to 4% of sensitive people).


  • 36% are often told by family and friends to be on their “best behavior” before heading to a social engagement (compared to - 9% of sensitive people).
  • 23% have been told their behavior at work is unprofessional and inappropriate (compared to 4% of sensitive people).
  • 40% admitted that their behavior embarrasses people (compared to 8% of sensitive people).
  • 20% refuse to listen to any opinion that differs from their own (compared to 6% of sensitive people).
  • Yet, 38% of insensitive people admitted that they themselves are sensitive to remarks of others and easily offended (compared to 17% of sensitive people).


  • 45% tend to lose their temper easily (compared to 9% of sensitive people).
  • 43% take their frustrations out on other people (compared to 12% of sensitive people).
  • 62% will automatically retaliate when someone is hostile or mean to them (compared to 26% of sensitive people).
  • 54% said that they can’t resist sharing their opinion on everything (compared to 23% of sensitive people).
  • 41% are unable to be civil with a person they dislike, no matter how hard they try (compared to 24% of sensitive people).
  • Ironically, 52% admitted that they tend to say things that they later regret (compared to 18% of sensitive people).

“According to our study, less than half of insensitive people think before they speak. On the flipside, 71% of people who are sensitive to other people’s feelings will self-monitor. This means that insensitive people are either unable to take that extra moment to assess the content or form of what they say, or simply don’t care enough to do so,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “Either way, it reveals a general lack of not just social etiquette, but also impulse control. Self-monitoring and social decorum are not about being fake or going overboard on political correctness. It’s about knowing how to express your opinion with tact, even if it is controversial. It’s about knowing how to read social situations, body language, and facial expressions. It’s also about knowing that ‘opinion’ is not the same as ‘scientific fact,’ and that in some situations it’s best to keep your thoughts to yourself. This is a skill, but you have to be willing to practice it. When you say whatever comes to mind without thinking about how it will sound or impact other people, you risk offending and alienating others. This is aside from the fact that trolling is a form of cyber-bullying and harassment, and can get you into a great deal of trouble nowadays.”

Do you engage in self-monitoring? Check out our Self-Control & Self-Monitoring Test at https://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/2818

Professional users, such as coaches, athletic directors of scouts, can request a free demo for this or other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/testdrive_gen_1

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/personality-tests-in-hr

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see ARCHProfile.com). The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D.
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