The Psychology of Piracy

piracyWe’ve all seen the ads that explain why piracy is theft. And yet a lot of people use torrent sites to access bootlegs copies of their favourite shows, movies, and music with an easy conscience. But why? New research by Australian PhD student Robert Eres has shed some light on the phenomenon.

Eres’ home country, despite its population of only about 23 million, leads the world in Game of Thrones piracy. Australians aren’t all thieves though, right? Eres studied the brain activity of a person stealing via file sharing compared to someone doing something obviously criminal like shoplifting. Here’s the catch – our brains won’t let us feel the same guilt about piracy.

Eres’ study proves the human brain cannot process the same level of guilt in a crime where physical objects are not involved.

“The findings from the two brain imaging experiments suggest that people are processing the intangible and tangible objects very differently within their brains,” Eres was quoted as saying in a CNET article. He connected these findings to the rise in online bullying and hacking, suggesting that the same logic might apply.