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).

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May 30, 2014