Scientists Find Gun Owners Assume Strangers Carry

A new study has found that people carrying a gun are much more likely to assume that others are, too. This isn’t an anomaly in human psychology; it turns out we do stuff like this all the time.

Ever come home from work dead tired, look up a flight of stairs and think that they look steeper or longer than usual? That’s because your mental state affects how you view things. That’s the type of research that scientists at the University of Notre Dame are studying. As it turns out, expert baseball batters perceive the baseball as larger, professional golfers imagine that the hole is bigger, and gun owners imagine guns are everywhere. 

During the experiment, test subjects were asked to guess if people in pictures were holding a certain object. They also gave the test subjects certain objects to hold while they were performing the experiment. They discovered that test subjects who were holding a replica toy gun were much more likely to guess that others were also carrying a gun. 

It’s interesting to hear about these findings in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. Perhaps Zimmerman was biologically inclined to think that Martin was carrying a gun. We’re neither trying to excuse nor condemn his actions, but this does potentially provide a psychological explanation. 

Most of you (we’re guessing) are gun owners. Do you tend to err on the side of caution and assume that strangers are carrying weapons, or do you generally think that you’re the only person in a room carrying a weapon?

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