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Holding a gun makes you think others are too, new research shows // News // Notre Dame News // University of Notre Dame


Wielding a gun increases a person’s bias to see guns in the hands of others, new research from the University of Notre Dame shows.
Notre Dame Associate Professor of Psychology James Brockmole, who specializes in human cognition and how the visual world guides behavior, together with a colleague from Purdue University, conducted the study, which will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.
In five experiments, subjects were shown multiple images of people on a computer screen and determined whether the person was holding a gun or a neutral object such as a soda can or cell phone. Subjects did this while holding either a toy gun or a neutral object such as a foam ball.
The researchers varied the situation in each experiment — such as having the people in the images sometimes wear ski masks, changing the race of the person in the image or changing the reaction subjects were to have when they perceived the person in the image to hold a gun. Regardless of the situation the observers found themselves in, the study showed that responding with a gun biased observers to report “gun present” more than did responding with a ball. Thus, by virtue of affording the subject the opportunity to use a gun, he or she was more likely to classify objects in a scene as a gun and, as a result, to engage in threat-induced behavior, such as raising a firearm to shoot.

“Beliefs, expectations and emotions can all influence an observer’s ability to detect and to categorize objects as guns,” Brockmole says. “Now we know that a person’s ability to act in certain ways can bias their recognition of objects as well, and in dramatic ways. It seems that people have a hard time separating their thoughts about what they perceive and their thoughts about how they can or should act.”
The researchers showed that the ability to act is a key factor in the effects by showing that simply letting observers see a nearby gun did not influence their behavior; holding and using the gun was important.
“One reason we supposed that wielding a firearm might influence object categorization stems from previous research in this area, which argues that people perceive the spatial properties of their surrounding environment in terms of their ability to perform an intended action,” Brockmole says.
For example, other research has shown that people with broader shoulders tend to perceive doorways to be narrower, and softball players with higher batting averages perceive the ball to be bigger. The blending of perception and action representations could explain, in part, why people holding a gun would tend to assume others are, too.
“In addition to the theoretical implications for event perception and object identification, these findings have practical implications for law enforcement and public safety,” Brockmole says.
 

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Just like most professors with little knowledge of someone carrying a gun they don't know that most of us use many factors in identifying a threat. The fact that I have a gun does nothing in me identifying another person having a gun or not. I don't go around pulling my gun on people holding cell phones just because I have a gun. I use body language and the scenario. The fact if I'm being threatened or there is a hostile environment. Having people holding a gun and showing pics of people holding objects is just collage BS. In my opinion. Can my threat level go up sure but that and making the jump that everyone has a gun because you do is ridiculous.
 
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Having a PhD. does not make a person intelligent. I learned this the hard way when I went to school. Having a doctorate only means that a person has learned what to regurgitate back out to his/her teachers. The unfortunate part of having a higher level of education is many students only become "in-doc-trinated" instead of educated during the process.
 

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If a thug or criminal, who is packing heat, perceives me to be packing why does he still pull it and rob the store? Just asking!
No thugs or criminals participated in the study!
 
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Guess they should have brought some combat vets in and tried the study. Our motto in combat is "shoot first, ask questions later". That way you're alive to answer them. This guy has no idea how on edge you are and how every sense is on hyper alert mod, a super adrenalin rush that burns you out, where every individual you see can be the one who makes an attempt on your life. Until you've experienced that, a study is a study.
 

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Fondling a gun makes me think researchers aren't always smart people. I didn't figure I could get away with using the "Retard" word.
 

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I guess if we picture the targer (or BG) in our mind as being larger, we should all be able to hit the 10 ring (or COM) a higher percentage of the time . . . .

"But . . .", as they say at the opening of the TV show "Alcatraz" . . . .". . . that isn't what happened(s)".
 

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I think the guy makes some sense. I remember looking at a guy wearing a black "fanny pack" and thinking to myself,..."that seems odd". Now I think to myself, "I wander what kind of gun he has."
 

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Having a PhD. does not make a person intelligent. I learned this the hard way when I went to school. Having a doctorate only means that a person has learned what to regurgitate back out to his/her teachers. The unfortunate part of having a higher level of education is many students only become "in-doc-trinated" instead of educated during the process.
ALL my friends are very intelligent and ALL have at least one (some have multiple) PhD., myself included. Most of us keep our Post Hole Diggers in the garage. :D
 

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I think the guy makes some sense. I remember looking at a guy wearing a black "fanny pack" and thinking to myself,..."that seems odd". Now I think to myself, "I wander what kind of gun he has."
Exactly. You are just more aware now. You recognize things that you are familiar with. I bought a Dodge truck and it seemed most of the trucks on the road were Dodges. I traded it in on a Ford F Series and it seemed most of the trucks on the road were Ford F Series.

I bet most people (the unarmed) are just unaware that others are packing.
 

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Honestly, this is one of the best studies I have seen that the antis will gladly tout as "proof"...of something. They really took into account a lot of variables, changed a lot of variables, and seem to have a pretty big test group. As I see it, there are two main problems:

1) They didn't say how they chose participants. Did they choose random people, antis, people with CHLs (or any sort of basic firearms-handling training), people who regularly use firearms, LEOs, or military? If those groups participated, were there any trends in those specific types of people? I would think anyone who regularly uses or carries a firearm would have a very different reaction than the participants, and if the participants were chosen completely at random, there are extremely low odds that any of those types were included.

2) The images are totally static, and obviously obscured enough to conceal the object in question (either wholly or mostly). They leap to the conclusion that deciding someone has a gun requires action by the participant. These could be separate, but it is as 45 Forever said, there is a wide variety of "tells" that people who do carry in any capacity look for - and that's true of LEOs, military personnel, CHL-holders, and criminals. There are very few in any of those groups who would rely on a potentially flawed perception from a single still image to determine action. In fact, any of those who would, would really be categorized as a criminal anyhow (Unless it's the Sanford, FL PD investigating, I guess. Too soon?).

I'm sure there are a number of other flaws, but as all the anti "research" I have ever seen, the results they are looking for always seem to be found eventually. Even if it requires changing the test until they do. Also, they always rely on the perceptions and reaction (almost always emotional) of those who know little to nothing about the topic. SSDD (Same Stuff, Different Doctorate)
 

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I shall switch from BDU's to dockers and make my presence less noticible, to heck if I'm shaving my beard.
 
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