Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

Sociology

Supervisor

Paul-Philippe Paré

2nd Supervisor

Anabel Quan-Haase

Joint Supervisor

Abstract

Currently, there is a lack of research investigating how the unique structural conditions of cyberspace may influence the expression of ‘dark’ personality and the role of such e-personality in explaining instances of online misconduct. Using a theoretical framework of context-dependent personality, this study seeks to fill a gap in the literature by using self-report survey data to explore whether the internet may decrease, increase, or intensify the expression of psychopathy. Quantitative data analysis in this study shows that when controlling for social context, internet users exhibit higher levels of psychopathy online than offline, which is especially pronounced in male subsamples. Further multivariate models examine the role of this ‘cyber-psychopathy’ in understanding misconduct behaviours on the internet, such as cyber-stalking, trolling, flaming, and digital piracy. Results demonstrate that primary cyber-psychopathy is positively correlated with one’s level of acceptability toward online misconduct behaviours, while both primary and secondary cyber-psychopathy are positively associated with one’s tendency toward engaging in such transgressions. This study serves to highlight the potential impacts of heightened psychopathic personality online, while suggesting practical implications that emphasize the need to foster empathy and close psychological distance between internet users in online communities.


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