Article

Action Alters Object Identification: Wielding a Gun Increases The Bias to See Guns

Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University.
Journal of Experimental Psychology Human Perception & Performance (Impact Factor: 3.11). 04/2012; 38(5):1159-67. DOI: 10.1037/a0027881
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Stereotypes, expectations, and emotions influence an observer's ability to detect and categorize objects as guns. In light of recent work in action-perception interactions, however, there is another unexplored factor that may be critical: The action choices available to the perceiver. In five experiments, participants determined whether another person was holding a gun or a neutral object. Critically, the participant did this while holding and responding with either a gun or a neutral object. Responding with a gun biased observers to report "gun present" more than did responding with a ball. Thus, by virtue of affording a perceiver 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 (raising a firearm to shoot). In addition to theoretical implications for event perception and object identification, these findings have practical implications for law enforcement and public safety. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

0 Followers
 · 
132 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The action-specific perception hypothesis (Witt, Current Directions in Psychological Science 20: 201-206, 2011) claims that the environment is represented with respect to potential interactions for objects present within said environment. This investigation sought to extend the hypothesis beyond perceptual mechanisms and assess whether action-specific potential could alter attentional allocation. To do so, we examined a well-replicated attention bias in the weapon focus effect (Loftus, Loftus, & Messo, Law and Human Behaviour 1, 55-62, 1987), which represents the tendency for observers to attend more to weapons than to neutral objects. Our key manipulation altered the anticipated action-specific potential of observers by providing them a firearm while they freely viewed scenes with and without weapons present. We replicated the original weapon focus effect using modern eye tracking and confirmed that the increase in time looking at weapons comes at a cost of less time spent looking at faces. Additionally, observers who held firearms while viewing the various scenes showed a general bias to look at faces over objects, but only if the firearm was in a readily usable position (i.e., pointed at the scenes rather than holstered at one's side). These two effects, weapon focus and the newly found bias to look more at faces when armed, canceled out one another without interacting. This evidence confirms that the action capabilities of the observer alter more than just perceptual mechanisms and that holding a weapon can change attentional priorities. Theoretical and real-world implications are discussed.
    Attention Perception & Psychophysics 09/2013; 12(9). DOI:10.3758/s13414-013-0538-6 · 2.15 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Our mental processing of the visual world is not independent of our physical actions within it. Placing objects near one’s hands and interacting with objects using tools can enhance visual perception, bias and prolong the allocation of attention, and distort memory in systematic ways. This suggests that the world within our reach is cognitively different from the world beyond reach. In this review, we examine the evidence supporting this conclusion, focusing on the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie these effects, the parameters that may control their emergence, and their potential practical applications.
    Current Directions in Psychological Science 02/2013; 22(1):38-44. DOI:10.1177/0963721412465065 · 3.93 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Physiological and emotional states can affect our decision-making processes, even when these states are seemingly insignificant to the decision at hand. We examined whether posture and postural threat affect decisions in a non-related economic domain. Healthy young adults made a series of choices between economic lotteries in various conditions, including changes in body posture (sitting vs. standing) and changes in elevation (ground level vs. atop a 0.8-meter-high platform). We compared three metrics between conditions to assess changes in risk-sensitivity: frequency of risky choices, and parameter fits of both utility and probability weighting parameters using cumulative prospect theory. We also measured skin conductance level to evaluate physiological response to the postural threat. Our results demonstrate that body posture does not significantly affect decision making. Secondly, despite increased skin conductance level, economic risk-sensitivity was unaffected by increased threat. Our findings indicate that economic choices are fairly robust to the physiological and emotional changes that result from posture or postural threat.
    07/2014; 2:e475. DOI:10.7717/peerj.475

Full-text

Download
105 Downloads
Available from
May 30, 2014