Trolls prevail because good men do nothing: boffins

Study finds victims of online bullying don't try to stop it

Boy slapping another boy on the head

A recent study into online bullying has found that nine out of 10 internet users won't do a thing to stop it.

Researchers from Ohio State University found that when confronted with examples of bullying, many users shy away from direct confrontation.

The study pitted 221 student volunteers in a simulated support chat environment where one person was deliberately bullied by another.

The study led subjects to believe they were testing a chat support function for an online survey site.

During the online chat session, users were asked to take part in the simulated online survey. During the test, a script was executed in which a simulated user would have trouble completing the survey, only to be berated by a (scripted) administrator.

Researchers found that, by and large, the subjects would ignore the bullying, Just one in 10 would directly intervene by confronting the administrator or by stepping in to help the victim.

"Many other studies have shown bystanders are reluctant to get involved when they see bullying," said the study's lead author Kelly Dillon

"The results disappointed me as a human, but they didn't surprise me as a scientist."

Lest you get too down about the current state of humanity, there is a bright side. Though the users were hesitant to directly confront the bully, 70 per cent of the subjects did give the abusive person a poor review in retrospect, so rest assured that your awful behavior will be met with a stern telling-off well after the fact.

The researchers are publishing their findings in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. ®

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