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'People see hacker network Anonymous as modern-day Robin Hood'

Press Trust of India, London, Sep 6 2017, 19:05 IST
Giovanni Travaglino a psychologist at the University of Kent in the UK carried out two studies to find out why people support Anonymous. Photo via Twitter. Representational Image.

Giovanni Travaglino a psychologist at the University of Kent in the UK carried out two studies to find out why people support Anonymous. Photo via Twitter. Representational Image.

Hacking networks like Anonymous are perceived as modern-day equivalents of Robin Hood, especially by people who feel more angry about societal injustices and disconnected from the political process, a study has found.

Giovanni Travaglino a psychologist at the University of Kent in the UK carried out two studies to find out why people support Anonymous.

He found that in contexts of the UK and the US anger against the political system was the common factor in explaining the relationship between people's belief that they could or could not influence political affairs and their attitude toward Anonymous.

Those who took part in the two studies who reported feeling angry and powerless to change their political context were more likely to express their dissent vicariously, in the form of support for Anonymous, rather than engaging directly in the political processes (for instance, by voting or protesting).

This finding was consistent with what is known as 'Social Banditry' theory, whereby political grievances that cannot be otherwise voiced trigger anger against the political system, which in turn promote support for disruptive social actors, 'social bandits'.

The research also found that people who considered themselves to have an individualistic outlook were more likely to have a supportive attitude to groups like Anonymous.

The findings suggest that Anonymous are seen as 'social bandits' - the modern-day equivalent of figures such as Robin Hood or Jesse James who have traditionally been celebrated in local folklore as noble individuals who robbed the rich and gave to the poor.

In contrast, people with a collective view of society had stronger intentions to engage in direct political engagement, such as voting or participate in a public demonstration.

This finding reflects Anonymous' role as channel for an individualistic desire of revenge against the system, rather than a programme for collective and institutional social change and improvement.
The research published in the journal Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.

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