The Psychology Of Gun Controllers

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 12 months ago

Salon:

Imagine you’ve volunteered to participate in a study on a college campus. You arrive to find the lab somewhat cluttered: There’s a badminton racquet and some shuttlecocks on a table. The researchers tell you to ignore that stuff — it’s for a different study. They hook you up to a machine that administers electric shocks, and hand the controls to another participant like yourself. He zaps you. Repeatedly. (He’s secretly part of the research team, following specific instructions — but as far as you know he’s just being a jerk.) Now it’s your turn to zap him. How many shocks will you administer?

Leonard Berkowitz and Anthony LePage repeated this experiment with 100 male students at the University of Wisconsin, sometimes replacing the badminton equipment with a revolver and shotgun (or no stimulus at all). They found that participants administered more electric shocks when in the presence of guns. According to Berkowitz and LePage, the weapons were “aggressive cues.”

A later study at the University of Utah refined our understanding of the weapons effect. Psychologists watched the behavior of drivers stuck at an intersection behind a truck that wouldn’t budge when the light turned green. Sometimes there was a gun displayed in the truck’s rear window and sometimes there wasn’t. The researchers observed that people honked more often when they saw the gun.

Recent experiments have shown that even when nobody has been tormenting you with electric shocks or inciting your road rage, you’ll react to a gun differently than you’d react to other objects in your environment. You’ll automatically see the gun as a threat, without even realizing it.

“The ‘threat superiority effect’ is the tendency for people to be able to pick out very quickly in their environment things that might pose a threat to their security — anything that might be dangerous,” explains Isabelle Blanchette, a professor of psychology at the University of Quebec. “People have a tendency to be able to see these things before they see other things.”

When I read this article I didn’t imagine at all that I volunteered for a study.  What I did imagine is a world in which psychologists have to train in something useful and worthwhile to mankind and get a real job that earns a living doing something good and productive with their time.

But it was all just a day dream.  The “threat superiority effect.”  There you have it.  I assume that there were some government dollars in their somewhere.  And that’s what you’re promulgating to the world when you openly carry a weapon.  Threat superiority.

Okay.  If they say so.


Comments

  1. On December 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm, Archer said:

    A thought about the University of Utah “study”:

    Did they honk more because of the “threat superiority effect” upon seeing the gun? Or, did they honk more because sub-consciously they realized the open display of a firearm is indicative of a law-abiding citizen who WON’T whip it out and start blasting?

    Or an open-carry parallel:
    Gun openly carried on a hip in a belt holster -> law-abiding citizen.
    Gun openly carried holster-less, down the front of belt-less, sagging pants -> not so much.

    To the “researchers” at the University of Utah: People are generally aware that criminals don’t advertise that they’re armed. Therefore, there must be other visual or non-visual cues at work here – besides “GUN!!!” – that will modify/mitigate a person’s base response.

  2. On December 20, 2013 at 2:50 pm, Paul B said:

    training the dogs to go one point when they see a gun. Out government at its best. Telling us stuff we already knew.

    What a crock.

  3. On December 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm, smmtheory said:

    I was thinking that the study showed why police should be unarmed out in public.

  4. On December 20, 2013 at 6:48 pm, Josh said:

    A sample size of 100 young males (they certainly skewed young because they were college students) is wholly inadequate for drawing any meaningful conclusion from the study. It doesn’t mean…anything.

    The “Threat Superiority Effect” is certainly interesting and observable. Humans, like other animals, react to sensory inputs regarding threat in such a way those threats become superior to other sensory inputs. Someone may be more prone to having a car accident while trying to avoid a wasp in their car. The theory explains why I react quickly and instinctively to a black widow, snatching my hand away with speed I couldn’t muster on command. Humans react to heights, water, snakes, etc in a manner that is instinctive and immediate to avoid danger.

    This theory is simply unrelated at best, or actually flies in the face of their findings at worst. Using it to explain why 20 year old males like to shock each other if given the chance is amateur. The experiment is Mickey Mouse.

  5. On December 21, 2013 at 10:24 am, William Mann said:

    Sounds like a confirmation of natural law to me. If you see a threat to your well being you focus on the threat. Even neanderthal man would recognize and focus on a saber tooth tiger threat.

  6. On December 21, 2013 at 11:00 pm, ExNuke said:

    They seem to be conflicted, on the one hand they contend that the sight of a gun sends a liberal urbanite into a pants wetting panic attack but on the other hand it causes them to act aggressively towards an obviously armed person. They seem to have proved that they don’t have a clue and couldn’t buy one with government (our) money.

  7. On December 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm, Veritas said:

    What a crock. When I see someone out in the country with a gun I get more “aggressive?” Gee when I am in a subway and I see several of Obama’s sons with golf clubs and baseball bats I usually get way more aggressive said nobody ever.

    When fruitcakes see a bunch of jihaddies armed to the teeth we all know that fag is going to go RAMBO on them.

    Do any of these people live in the real world?

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This article is filed under the category(s) Guns and was published December 20th, 2013 by Herschel Smith.

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