Guns make the bad guy bigger

bad guy

An interest experiment from UCLA shows that we think people look bigger when they hold handguns.

Anthropologists asked hundreds of people to describe the type of person holding common objects based solely on a photograph of the person’s hand holding that object. They confirmed that brandishing a weapon make a man appear bigger and stronger than he actually is. This should embolden scrawny thieves everywhere to go get that handgun.

“There’s nothing about the knowledge that gun powder makes lead bullets fly through the air at damage-causing speeds that should make you think that a gun-bearer is bigger or stronger, yet you do,” said Daniel Fessler, lead author of the study and associate professor of anthropology at UCLA. “Danger really does loom large – in our minds.”

There is an unconscious mental mechanism that sizes up a potential adversary and then interprets the magnitude of the threat into dimensions of size and strength. The size assessment may not be accurate, but the threat assessment will help you survive.

“We’ve isolated a capacity to assess threats in a simple way,” said Colin Holbrook, a UCLS postdoctoral scholar in anthropology and co-author of the study. “Though this capacity is very efficient, it can misguide us.”

The study is part of a larger look at how people make decisions when violent conflict is a possibility. “We’re exploring how people think about the relative likelihood that they will win a conflict, and then how those thoughts affect their decisions about whether to enter into conflict,” said Fessler.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, PLoS ONE


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