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Abstract

The Real Life Superhero (RLSH) subculture is a growing global community of individuals who adopt the superhero motif and are motivated by prosocial goals. Although the community has been the focus of documentaries, news articles and numerous internet forums, little academic research has been conducted on the composition of this subculture. Through the use of an online survey, socio-demographic information about this community was collected. This data was compiled and analysed via qualitative means to develop not only an overarching review of the composition of the subculture but also how members perceived themselves and other members. Membership and identity within the community was strongly tied to the activities and focus of each member, predominantly community and crime prevention orientated. The study identified a high degree of heterogeneity within the community with subdivisions focused on the perceptions of legal boundaries, focus of activities and level of authenticity.

Keywords

Subculture, Real Life Superheroes, Structured Questionnaire, Open-Ended Responses, Latent Content Analysis

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Daniel White is a Researcher in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on subculture research and the relationship between prosocial and antisocial constructs. He is particularly interested in the expression of antisocial behaviour with prosocial goals. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Daniel White at dwhi7687@unni.sydney.edu.au.

Dr. Marianna Szabo is a senior lecturer at School of Psychology, The University of Sydney, Australia. Her research interests focus on worry, anxiety and depression. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Marianna Szabo at, Marianna.szabo@sydney.edu.au.

Dr. Niko Tiliopoulos is a senior lecturer at School of Psychology, The University of Sydney, Australia. His research interests focus on personality and personality disorders. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Niko Tiliopoulos at niko.tiliopoulos@sydney.edu.au.

Associate Professor Paul Rhodes is an academic at the Clinical Psychology Unit, School of Psychology, University of Sydney. His research focuses on qualitative inquiry in a wide range of fields, including anorexia nervosa, family therapy, developmental disability and the education of therapists. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Paul Rhodes at, p.rhodes@sydney.edu.au.

Dr. Michael Spurrier is a clinical psychologist and researcher. His previous research has focused on gambling, suicidal behaviour, and models of decision making and recidivism. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Michael Spurrier at, mickspurrier@gmail.com.

Scott Griffiths is a Researcher in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland. His research is focuses on body image and eating disorders, muscle dysmorphia, anabolic steroids, and the stigma of mental illness. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Scott Griffiths at sgri6476@uni.sydney.edu.au.

Publication Date

2-1-2016

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

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