People holding guns perceive others with guns, researcher says

December 20, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—People holding guns perceive other people holding guns, according to a new study published this fall by a Colorado State University researcher.

The 217 students participating in the study were asked to react to images on a . Specifically, they had to determine if the figure on the screen was holding a gun or a neutral object like a wallet or a shoe. The critical manipulation was that some of the participants also held a gun – in this case, a Wii gun.

A majority of students were more biased to perceive the figure in the photograph as holding a gun – even when it was a shoe – when they also held a gun than when they held a rubber ball.

Jessica Witt conducted the research while at Purdue University along with J.R. Brockmole at Notre Dame University. Witt joined Colorado State University this fall as an associate professor with a research focus on perception and action relationships.

"Your ability to respond influences what you see. Specifically when you can respond with a gun, that creates a to see guns," Witt said of the study results, which were published in the October issue of the : and Performance.

"The results have theoretical implications for how perception and action interact," Witt said. "This interaction, however, has in the case of guns."

Witt also said, "For the most part, gun owners care about safety, they lock up guns, they're careful about who they let use their weapons. We think they're going to want to know other risks. In this case, another risk is a perceptual bias to see guns when they are holding a gun. Gun owners who care about safety will want to take against this bias. We don't know what those are yet, but those need to be researched.

"We hope that this research leads to safer gun use."

To continue the research, Witt plans to look at whether this perceptual bias also exists in people who either play violent video games or own guns.

Explore further: Pellet guns and children

More information:

Related Stories

Pellet guns and children

January 16, 2012

Last week an eighth-grader in Brownsville was shot and killed when he refused to stand down and lower his weapon.

Recommended for you

Serious research into what makes us laugh

November 24, 2015

More complex jokes tend to be funnier but only up to a point, Oxford researchers have found. Jokes that are too complicated tend to lose the audience.

Psychologists dispute continuum theory of sexual orientation

November 19, 2015

Washington State University researchers have established a categorical distinction between people who are heterosexual and those who are not. By analyzing the reported sexual behavior, identity and attraction of more than ...

Babies have logical reasoning before age one, study finds

November 18, 2015

Human infants are capable of deductive problem solving as early as 10 months of age, a new study by psychologists at Emory University and Bucknell finds. The journal Developmental Science is publishing the research, showing ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Dec 20, 2012
Stupid study by progressives pushing an agenda alert.

Most people this age group have played video games. If you hold a video game gun watching a video, what do you expect?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.