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Don't feel guilty: This is your brain on piracy

A new study shows why you don't feel bad about torrenting the latest "Game of Thrones".

Image by Nicolas Raymond, CC BY 2.0

In addition to its number of venomous animals per capita, sunny beaches and an interminable fascination with cricket, Australia puts the world to shame when it comes to piracy. Despite a relatively small population, our fair island state leads the world in "Game of Thrones" piracy (three years running, no less).

But it's totally not our fault, says a new study conducted by Monash University. Or, at least, it explains why we don't feel so guilty about doing it.

The study, headed up by PhD student Robert Eres, looks at brain activity when people pirate TV shows compared to something like good old-fashioned shoplifting. There was far more activity in the area of the brain associated with guilt where physical objects were concerned.

"The findings from the two brain imaging experiments suggest that people are processing the intangible and tangible objects very differently within their brains," Eres said.

Eres went on to say that this could also explain why people feel far less guilt over things like online bullying or hacking, compared to their physical counterparts.