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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2012 Oct;38(5):1159-67. Epub 2012 Apr 16.

Action alters object identification: wielding a gun increases the bias to see guns.

Author information

1
Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University. Jessica.Witt@colostate.edu

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.

PMID:
22506781
DOI:
10.1037/a0027881
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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