Shannon Watts from Moms Demand recently tweeted about a “gun embodiment” study:
Shootings of unarmed victims may result from an innate bias the shooter has simply by being armed. A new @ColoradoStateU study shows people who are armed are likely to misperceive their victims as also having a gun.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 10, 2020
Watts’ tweet, of course, must align with her anti-gun narrative. Never mind the details of the study and their methodology.
So let’s take a look at the details of this tweet, shall we?
Watts’ link takes you to the Colorado State University article entitled, “Wielding a gun makes a shooter perceive others as wielding a gun, too.”
The CSU article author starts out this way:
“Accidental shootings of unarmed victims are tragically common, and sometimes they happen because the shooter misperceived the victim as also having a gun.
Nearly a decade ago, cognitive psychologist Jessica Witt wondered if the mere act of wielding a firearm could bias someone to perceive another person as wielding one, too – and more importantly, if such a bias could be scientifically measured. A series of experiments later, Witt and her research team concluded, yes and yes.”
The article also mentions this: “For this recent study, they’ve replicated the experiments with larger sample sizes and more confidence in their claims that the gun bias exists; that it can be measured via controlled laboratory experiments; and that it seems universal – that is, not changed by an individual’s prior experiences, general attitudes about firearms, or personality traits.”
You can read the whole article here.
The summary of Witts’ experiment was published on SpringerOpen and is entitled, “Wielding a gun increases judgments of others as holding guns: a randomized controlled trial.”
From the abstract: “The gun embodiment effect is the consequence caused by wielding a gun on judgments of whether others are also holding a gun. This effect could be responsible for real-world instances when police officers shoot an unarmed person because of the misperception that the person had a gun.”
Witts’ experiment may have some valid points yet when you look at the experiment participants, you start to lose any confidence in their conclusions.
Participants were 212 students at Colorado State University (CSU) who received course credit in exchange for their participation. The sample was 71.1% female, 84.3% White, 82.9% non-Hispanic, and had a mean age of 19.2 years.
Remember, in their abstract they state that this experiment could explain real-world instances of when police officers shoot unarmed people.
What about the participants’ experience with REAL firearms? Yeah, that’d be a big fat ZERO:
“Participants then completed several self-report measures of individual factors via laptop computer and the Qualtrics survey platform (Qualtrics Inc 2019). First, participants indicated how often they use a gun. Possible responses were ‘never’, ‘less than once a year’, ‘1 to 5 times per year’, ‘6 to 12 times per year’, and ‘13 or more times per year’. The frequency was later dichotomized into ‘never’ and ‘at least once’ for purpose of the analysis.“
So we go from experimenting with STUDENTS who have NO firearm experience/training to comparing their results to the possible, real-world actions of highly trained police officers?
I’m betting Shannon Watts never read the details of this experiment. All that matters to anti-gunners is the narrative.
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