Characteristics of People Who Engage in Online Harassing Behavior

Song Mi Lee, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Cliff Lampe, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
J.J. Prescott, University of Michigan Law School
Sarita Schoenebeck, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

CHI ’22 Extended Abstracts, April 29-May 5, 2022, New Orleans, LA, USA © 2022 Copyright held by the owner/author(s). Publication rights licensed to ACM. ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-9156-6/22/04. . . $15.00

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Conflict in online spaces can often lead to behaviors that may be categorized as “harassment.” We asked 307 U.S. adults to self-report if they have ever engaged in aggressive online conflict. Using logistic regressions, we examine what psychosocial characteristics predict which users would report engaging in behaviors that are commonly labeled as “harassment.” We find that psychological factors such as impulsivity, reactive aggression, and premeditated aggression distinguish those who never thought of, those who only imagined, and those who carried out harassing behavior. Demographic factors other than age do not have significance, contrary to the results of prior studies. Design interventions that address propensities to perpetrate harassment might reduce harm but also raise ethical and moral concerns about the nature of harassment and the disposition toward it.