119 59 LINKEDIN 8 COMMENTMORE

The reasons why some people seek out nude celebrity pictures might seem obvious, but the appeal also has a psychological basis.

As Apple and the FBI investigate the widespread hacking of celebrity online accounts that leaked nude photos of stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna and Kate Upton, the public's fascination with the subject continues. USA TODAY Network reached out to psychologists to examine why so many are inclined to share these images -- and what motivates the hackers who obtained the photos in the first place.

Graham Jones, a web psychologist and expert on online behavior, said that there are three main reasons that people are subconsciously attracted to these images and may be perpetuating their dissemination online.

•Status

"We like to be in possession of something that other people don't have," Jones said. People want to be the first to see something and share it within their network because it gives them a sense of power to know a secret that no one else knows.

•Curiosity

Humans are naturally inquisitive creatures, Jones said, and private photos appeal to that sense of curiosity.

•Self-identity

"Many people identify with celebrities because they feel they are like them," according to Jones. Consequently, when very private details of a celebrity's life become attainable, people are drawn to that information because it sheds light on their own sense of self, he said.

Meanwhile, the hackers' motivation is "kind of basic," Nancy Mramor, a media psychologist told USA TODAY Network.

Hackers often hack to prove they can, she said.

"If someone has technical skills, they like to be able to show them off and say, 'Hey look what I did,'" she said. Mramor likened this kind of hacking to the paparazzi who follow celebrities on the street taking photos of their every move.

"This is just a new level of privacy invasion," she said. The idea that "the public has a right to know" and the belief that celebrities should not expect privacy might be a motivation for that as well, she said.

Psychologist Lawrence Rubin said there might also be an element of "forced democratization" behind this hacking as well,

There's a great deal of distance between the average individual and celebrity in the limelight, he said. A hacker might decide to expose these photos as an attempt to "bring them down by revealing them and equalizing the playing field," he said.

"As a society we really have a love-hate relationship with heroes. We are as motivated to dethrone them as we are to exhalt them," according to Rubin.

Follow @lagrisham on Twitter

More:

119 59 LINKEDIN 8 COMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1rLic0V