Friday, October 22, 2021

Back to Weapons Effect Theory

I spent a bit of time over the week looking at p-curve analyses for the handful of articles that not only predicted an interaction of provocation level and brief exposure to weapons and weapon images (starting with Berkowitz & LePage, 1967), and preliminary evidence is not promising. Berkowitz and LePage (1967) predicted an interaction effect.They appeared to find on. Some subsequent authors attempted to test the same effect. Some were fairly good at reporting the specific test statistics necessary to be included in a p-curve analysis. Others failed miserably. Of those who did make explicit reports, some found a significant interaction that was consistent with Berkowitz and LePage (1967). Others, found effects that were null or opposite. Given the dearth of reports that faithfully attempted to replicate Berkowitz & LePage, (1967), I am not sure how much to read into things. Overall, I am getting the impression that there was just not much to write home about. At some point, I will re-rerun the analysis and download what I can and get screen shots of the rest. The bottom line is that the interaction, to the extent it was reported during the 1970s was far from robust, and an argument can be made that those who simply began to concentrate only on experimental research in which only high frustration or provocation was measured had put the proverbial cart before the horse. I understand, up to a point. In the Berkowitz and LePage (1967) experiment, only the cell in which participants were highly provoked and exposed briefly to firearms showed a higher level of aggression. Why other researchers found suppression effects under the same conditions, no effect, or simply neglected to report the necessary test statistics for that interaction effect is a story that I cannot adequately offer commentary about. What I can say is that the findings were messy and that more rigorous replications made sense. I'll give Buss et al (1972) points for an effort, even if they were a bit oblique in reporting faithfully the actual F-tests. Keep in mind that p-curve analyses only consider those studies where a significant effect is found. So if those come up short? Reader beware.

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