Thursday, February 5, 2015

Quick update - weapons effect edition

It's been a while since I last updated the blog, so here's just a bit about what is going on.

Currently, my focus is on research concerning the weapons effect: that is, the link between exposure to weapons and aggression. I recently completed data analyses on a meta-analysis, examining the causal link between weapons and aggressive behavior, cognition, and affect. The write up is proceeding at present. The data look good. I think we can make a solid case at this point that the weapons effect is a real phenomenon, and that at least with regard to behavior and affect that the weapons effect is especially strong under conditions of high provocation. When provoked, those who have been exposed to weapons are more aggressive and are angrier than those who are not provoked. The cognitive priming effects are now well-established. The effect seems to occur regardless of sex of participant and regardless of age level. The paper (co-authored with Brad Bushman) is scheduled to be presented at the upcoming ICPS conference in Amsterdam and has a good chance of being published in a high impact journal.

Meagan Crosby (one of my students) and I completed analyses of a data set last fall that establishes for the first time that guns prohibited signage primes aggressive cognition much the same way that ordinary images of guns do. I'll be presenting preliminary findings at a small conference toward the end of March. We are currently working - in conjunction with Brad Bushman - on the follow-up experiments to further explore this particular phenomenon. That will be the focus of much of my research activity for the foreseeable future.

Other than that, I did get an article published at a small journal just a few days ago. It was nice to see in print. I'm really trying to wind down the authoritarianism research phase of my career, and publish any remaining data sets worth publishing. It made sense at a time when I did not have facilities or access to samples needed to do the work that is primary interest. That time has largely passed. In essence, I am going back to the basics: focusing on various facets of mass media and their influence on aggression. Obviously, the weapons effect work will be a large part of my focus. The work on attitudes toward torture is similarly part of that focus, given my interest in the priming effects of various mass media on such attitudes. I think of that work in particular as something of an extension of George Gerbner's work on media violence, and am eager to see it progress.

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