Holding a gun makes you think others are too, new research showsMarch 21, 2012
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 Journal of Experimental Psychology: 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 the 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," Dr. 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 their effects by showing that simply showing observers 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.
University of Notre Dame
Related Behavior Articles:
'Religious Devotion and Extrinsic Religiosity Affect In-group Altruism and Out-group Hostility Oppositely in Rural Jamaica,' suggests that a sincere belief in God -- religious devotion -- is unrelated to feelings of prejudice.
Researchers at the University of Zurich have identified the brain mechanism that governs decisions between honesty and self-interest.
The scientists analyzed an extensive data set of brain region connectivity from the NIH-funded Human Connectome Project (HCP) which is mapping neural connections in the brain and makes its data publicly available.
A study shows that contests of butterflies occur only as erroneous courtships between sexually active males that are unable to distinguish the sex of the other butterflies.
In a study published online by JAMA Ophthalmology, Paul D.
Curiosity could be an effective tool to entice people into making smarter and sometimes healthier decisions, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
Anyone who's gone camping has seen birds foraging for picnic crumbs, and according to new research in The Condor: Ornithological Applications, the availability of food in campgrounds significantly alters jays' behavior and may even change how they interact with other bird species.
A team of investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the University of Massachusetts have developed a suite of computer algorithms that can accurately predict the behavior of the microbiome -- the vast collection of microbes living on and inside the human body.
Why do we sometimes decide to take risks and other times choose to play it safe?
A new study suggests that the specific alignment of neural networks in the brain dictates whether a person's altruism was motivated by selfish or altruistic behavior.
Related Behavior Reading:
Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst
by Robert M. Sapolsky (Author)
A New York Times Bestseller.
"Hands-down one of the best books I’ve read in years. I loved it."— Dina Temple-Raston, The Washington Post
“It’s no exaggeration to say that Behave is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read.” —David P. Barash, The Wall Street Journal
From the celebrated neurobiologist and primatologist, a landmark, genre-defining examination of human behavior, both good and bad, and an answer to the question: Why do we do the things we do?
Sapolsky's storytelling... View Details
The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students
by Jessica Minahan (Author), Nancy Rappaport MD (Author)
Based on a collaboration dating back nearly a decade, the authors—a behavioral analyst and a child psychiatrist—reveal their systematic approach for deciphering causes and patterns of difficult behaviors and how to match them with proven strategies for getting students back on track to learn.
The Behavior Code includes user-friendly worksheets and other helpful resources. View Details
The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation & ... Tolerance (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)
by Matthew McKay (Author), Jeffrey C. Wood (Author), Jeffrey Brantley (Author)
A Clear and Effective Approach to Learning DBT Skills
First developed for treating borderline personality disorder, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has proven effective as treatment for a range of other mental health problems, especially for those characterized by overwhelming emotions. Research shows that DBT can improve your ability to handle distress without losing control and acting destructively. In order to make use of these techniques, you need to build skills in four key areas-distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal... View Details
Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior
by Leonard Mlodinow (Author)
From the bestselling author of The Drunkard’s Walk and coauthor of The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking), a startling and eye-opening examination of how the unconscious mind shapes our experience of the world.
Winner of the 2013 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
Over the past two decades of neurological research, it has become increasingly clear that the way we experience the world--our perception, behavior, memory, and social judgment--is largely driven by the mind's subliminal processes and not by the conscious ones, as we... View Details
Good Behavior (Letty Dobesh Chronicles)
by Blake Crouch (Author)
Now a TNT television series starring Michelle Dockery.
Fresh out of prison and fighting to keep afloat, Letty Dobesh returns to her old tricks burglarizing suites at a luxury hotel. While on the job, she overhears a man hiring a hit man to kill his wife. Letty may not be winning any morality awards, but even she has limits. Unable to go to the police, Letty sets out to derail the job, putting herself on a collision course with the killer that entangles the two of them in a dangerous, seductive relationship.
"Kingsolver is a gifted magician of words."
The extraordinary New York Times bestselling author of The Lacuna (winner of the Orange Prize), The Poisonwood Bible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize), and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver returns with a truly stunning and unforgettable work. Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in... View Details
Ethics for Behavior Analysts, 3rd Edition
by Jon Bailey (Author), Mary Burch (Author)
This fully-updated third edition of Jon Bailey and Mary Burch’s bestselling Ethics for Behavior Analysts is an invaluable guide to understanding and implementing the newly-revised Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Professional and Ethical Compliance Code. Featured in this new edition are case studies drawn from the author’s real-world practice with hints to guide readers toward the ethical ‘solution’ and revised chapters, including how this new edition evolved alongside the revised Code and tips for succeeding in your first job as a certified behavior analyst. The... View Details
The Verbal Behavior Approach: How to Teach Children with Autism and Related Disorders
by Mary Barbera (Author), Tracy Rasmussen (Author)
The Verbal Behavior (VB) approach is a form of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), that is based on B.F. Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior and works particularly well with children with minimal or no speech abilities. In this book Dr. Mary Lynch Barbera draws on her own experiences as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and also as a parent of a child with autism to explain VB and how to use it.
This step-by-step guide provides an abundance of information about how to help children develop better language and speaking skills, and also explains how to teach non-vocal children to use... View Details
Pattern Behavior: The Seamy Side of Fashion
by Natalie Kossar (Author)
For those who like their humor droll, deadpan, and hysterically funny, Pattern Behavior features more than 100 vintage McCall's patterns--with captions that will leave you in stitches.
Feeling nostalgic for your grandmother's old sewing patterns? Stitch some humor into your distant childhood with Pattern Behavior, featuring vintage covers from the McCall Pattern Company's archives. Based on the popular Tumblr blog, this droll comic collection brings the McCall's models back to life--in a way you haven't seen before! Combining retro fashion and modern... View Details
Supporting Positive Behavior in Children and Teens with Down Syndrome: The Respond but Don't React Method
by David Stein (Author)
A child doesn't want to leave the toy store, so he stops and flops. Another bolts across a busy parking lot, turns and smiles at his mom. An eighteen-year-old student bursts into tears when asked to change activities at school. Sound familiar?
These and other common behavior issues in children with Down syndrome can quickly become engrained and may even persist into adulthood. No parent wants that to happen, and thankfully, help is available! Dr. David Stein, a psychologist and Co-Director of the Down Syndrome Program at Boston Children's Hospital, shares his approach to behavior... View Details