May 9, 2006

Guns don't kill people. Guns make people want to kill people.

Psychologists did an experiment that is said to indicate that handling a gun brings out the aggressive instinct in males:
Psychologists at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., enrolled 30 male students in what they described as a taste study. The researchers took saliva samples from the students and measured testosterone levels.

They then seated the young men, one at a time, at a table in a bare room; on the table were pieces of paper and either the board game Mouse Trap or a large handgun.

Their instructions: take apart the game or the gun and write directions for assembly and disassembly.

Fifteen minutes later, the psychologists measured saliva testosterone again and found that the levels had spiked in men who had handled the gun but had stayed steady in those working with the board game.

The "taste sensitivity" phase of the experiment was in fact intended to measure aggressive impulses. After the writing assignment, the young men were asked to rate the taste of a drink, a cup of water with a drop of hot sauce in it. They were then told to prepare a drink for the next person in the experiment, adding as much hot sauce as they liked.

"Those who had handled the gun put in about three times as much as the others — 13 grams on average, which is a lot," said Tim Kasser, one of the authors.

So the subjects were given a choice whether to take apart a kid's game or a big, real gun? Wouldn't that sort the guys into two very distinct groups right there? I'd like to see a separate test in which the Mouse Trap choosing types are given a gun to assemble and disassemble, and the gun choosing types have to fiddle with Mouse Trap.

UPDATE: I think the answer to my question whether they were given a choice is no. One or the other object was on the table. So I guess there's no way around it: Guns don't kill people. Guns make people want to kill people.

IN THE COMMENTS: The best argument around the conclusion is that the gun stimulated feelings of fear not aggression. I note that Mouse Trap makes a flawed comparison because it is a familiar, cheerfully colored, flimsy plastic child's game. A fairer comparison would have been something made of gray metal and not associated with children -- maybe a motor.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds links and says "I think this gives you a First Amendment right to own a gun." Hmmm. If holding a gun causes ideas to form in your head, a gun is like a book? He also links to this Jonah Goldberg post that discusses the same psych experiment. Jonah links to Andrew Sullivan, who's fretting about "what actually owning or handling a gun does to male psychology." Jonah points out how unsurprising it is that things affect our minds. And Glenn reminds us that Andrew Sullivan once promoted testosterone. Here's the old Sullivan article, which he provides on his own "Greatest Hits" page. A sample:
Because the testosterone is injected every two weeks, and it quickly leaves the bloodstream, I can actually feel its power on almost a daily basis. Within hours, and at most a day, I feel a deep surge of energy. It is less edgy than a double espresso, but just as powerful. My attention span shortens. In the two or three days after my shot, I find it harder to concentrate on writing and feel the need to exercise more. My wit is quicker, my mind faster, but my judgment is more impulsive. It is not unlike the kind of rush I get before talking in front of a large audience, or going on a first date, or getting on an airplane, but it suffuses me in a less abrupt and more consistent way. In a word, I feel braced. For what? It scarcely seems to matter.
For what? Perhaps for some practical jokes involving lots and lots of Tabasco sauce.

85 comments:

corporate law drudge said...

Hey Emily Latella: As I read it, I don't think that the subjects were given the choice between the game and the gun.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, you're right!

Seven Machos said...

So the board game Mousetrap has a terrible and deadening effect on the human brain, making it abnormally apathetic and causing testosterone levels to plateau.

That doesn't mean we should outlaw the game. Maybe that's what some people are into.

dick said...

I wonder if they tested what the normal range of testosterone was for the different groups. What was their control group here.

Ann Althouse said...

I wonder why they picked Mouse Trap as the alternate task. Trapping a mouse is a bit violent, but it's a child's game, and it's made of flimsy plastic, and bright colors. I'd like to see the gun contrasted to something metal and unpainted and not associated with children (or women) -- maybe a motor.

Scott Wickstein said...

I have fond memories of playing Mousetrap on my uncle's farm when I was growing up, before going shooting rabbits in the evening!

SteveR said...

If you were trying to prove gun ownership is a bad thing, this would seem to work for you. OTOH if you did the same thing, watch this episode of Barney or watch Jenna loves Crystal, I bet you'd get similar results. What's good for the second is good for the first, amendment that is.

Guns don't kill people, they make you want to give them hot sauce.

Dave said...

A couple of observations:

1) Given a choice of taking apart Mouse Trap or taking apart a gun, I'd take apart mouse trap. Rube Goldberg always fascinated me.

2) Given a choice between taking apart a motor and a gun I'd choose the gun.

Given all that, going to a pistol range and firing off a bunch of shots is an adrenaline high exceeded only by skydiving. But skydivers don't kill other people. So what's the connection between adrenaline and wanting to kill other people?

Goesh said...

Measuring the spit from 30 college students - hmmm, seems like a bit of a reach for a conclusion. Couldn't elevated testosterone levels suggest fear too, the old flight or fight instinct? I see college students as being for the most part apprehensive of guns. I'd like to see 100 hundred male avowed gun owners and 100 male avowed anti-gun people of the same approximate age and general health do the spitting with only a gun on the table and directions to disassemble and write instructions. I would feel more comfortable with general conclusions on that test.

HaloJonesFan said...

Ann: Or, maybe, a plastic Airsoft BB-shooting gun, rather than a real honest-to-god "large handgun". When I'm around guns I'm a little more on-edge, because they're dangerous when used improperly; this would probably show itself in my body chemistry.

A better test might have been to show a video of a gun being disassembled and reassembled (versus a video of a complex toy being disassembled and reassembled.)

Although...I quote P.J. O'Rourke.
"The real argument in favor of military spending isn't an argument at all. It's visceral, hormonal. It's the tightness in the gut, the swelling of the chest, the involuntary smile that comes to the face of every man when he takes a weapon to hand."

Jim said...

There seems to be a piece missing here: What sort of "large handgun," and did the students know how to take it apart to begin with? The way you disassemble a handgun is not exactly obvious with a lot of models, and if they didn't know how, I'm not surprised their testosterone levels were elevated by the time they were done.

Seven Machos said...

Goesh's point is a good one. Knox College is one of these little Midwestern liberal arts colleges with lots of piercings. Not that this is bad thing, at all, but I don't think it's really fertile ground for National Rifle Assocation membership drives.

Students probably were a little scared of the gun. I'd be scared of a gun. A lot more scared than having to deal with Mousetrap. And scared = adrenaline, as any ride on a decent roller coaster will demonstrate.

amn said...

The results seem pretty straight forward and shouldn't surprise anyone. Walking into a room in the Psychology building, expecting to learn lists of non-words, and being handed a large gun to take apart would cause a pretty big rush. If nothing else, it seems pretty illicit to be handling a gun on campus. Of course this rush is manifested in a testosterone increase. Take the gun out of the picture, and our knowledge of the effects of testosterone makes it pretty logical that higher testosterone would lead to pouring more hot sauce into the water.

yetanotherjohn said...

I would suggest a wider range of items to see the effect. Something lethal, but with out as much "hype" like a cross bow or spear gun. Something sexual. Something political (on both sides of the spectrum). Something disgusting. Something nice. Something mechanical. Something complicated. Something childish. Something feminine. etc.

Then if you saw only a gun brought out the testosterone increase, you would have a great argument. But if you got a range of responses, you wouldn't have a clear cut argument. Reality is generally in shades of grey, not just black and white. So studies like this that are so unsubtle don't give me much insite into the real world. They do tend to give me insight into the limitations of the researcher.

Palladian said...

I wonder how much of the response is due not to the object being specifically a gun, but rather a weapon or a weapon-shaped object in general. Would a wooden club have elicited the same response? A torque wrench? And can this be a sexual response as much as it is an aggressive one?

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

7m: I don't think the students at Knox College, if they're midwesterners, are afraid of guns. Guns are everywhere here -- outside the cities -- because of the prevalence of hunting. True, they're shotguns or .22s, not large handguns, but I'd guess a hunter presented with a handgun might show more curiosity than fear.

Now, if the students at Knox are from Cities, all bets are off.

Freeman Hunt said...

What's so implicitly wrong with a little testosterone? It's not as though they were so pumped full of hormones that they wanted to murder people. What's wrong with heightened "maleness"?

chuck said...

Heck, why all this expense and trouble for a study. Just castrate the boys and all problems will be solved. It works for cattle.

Jennifer said...

MadisonMan: I have to disagree. I was raised in a house with guns. My father taught me how to shoot them. My husband carries a gun for a living.

And guns make me nervous as hell. I hate being near them and I really hate touching them. Having to disassemble one would get my heart pumping very fast and my hormones flowing.

I think the only thing that soothes this response is regular handling and use. Simply being from an area where hunting occurs wouldn't cut it, I don't think.

James Wigderson said...

Does this give biatheletes an unfair competitive advantage when they compete in other skiing sports?

Seven Machos said...

Yeah, Madison Man, that's them bumpkins in the country. Ev'rbodah owns one.

Come on! I grew up in the sticks and handled guns only a few times, each time scared out of my wits. Further, are you sure there are no guns in the cities? I occasionally see an article in the paper about how guns are used in cities. I guess where you live they must have gun control which, as everyone knows, prevents guns from entering a place or being used.

Jacques Cuze said...

Knox College is one of these little Midwestern liberal arts colleges with lots of piercings Comedy gold!

and

get my heart pumping very fast and my hormones flowing.

I think the only thing that soothes this response is regular handling and use.
Lucky husband!

Cindy said...

Guns don't kill people.

Pencils don't misspell words.

Psychology, why do you think they call it a soft science?

Palladian said...

When I hold you in my arms and I feel my finger on you trigger, I know nobody can do me no harm.

Because happiness is a warm gun, mama.

Mack said...

Without getting too Freudian, a mouse trap may have a certain Lorraina Bobbit element to it. Was this coincidental?

I wonder if they had the guys chop cucumbers or carrots or something similar, what the effect on testosterone levels would be from that. I think Eugene Volokh should blog about this.

MadisonMan said...

I grew up in the sticks as well, but there was a land-grant university nearby. The basketball arena had a shooting range in the basement, and my boy scout troop regularly went there for gun safety classes and for shooting practice. I never recall anyone complaining, or showing fear -- just matter-of-factedness. So maybe I'm just more familiar with guns and don't understand the assumption that the students would automatically be frightened.

I've handled a gun maybe 10 times in my life. The last time was when my Dad's 94-year old cousin showed me the little Blue colt handgun that *her* uncle gave her in the 50s to put in her glovebox as she drove around South Carolina -- the Uncle said all ladies should be armed when they drive (!) The only thing I felt was surprise at its heft.

Jennifer said...

Boy, Ann. Just talking about guns seems to bring on the testosterone.

gj said...

What's wrong with heightened "maleness"?

It makes you spike people's water with a triple dose of hot sauce, that's what.

bill said...

SippicanCottage said...
Guns don't kill people.
Postal workers kill people.


The one I remember is "Guns don't kill people, God kills people."

SteveR said...

Jerry (eyes rolling) "naah, no one ever gets shot in the city"

gj said...

What difference does it make to the result if handling a gun is "a rush" or "scary" or "exciting" or "sexy." The point of the study is that handling the gun had a hormonal effect and a behavioral effect. The study didn't claim to analyze the emotional path that led to those effects.

tiggeril said...

Clue > Mousetrap.

tiggeril said...

On a more serious note, why the assumption that elevated testosterone/adrenaline levels are indicative of a killing urge?

Or is it the hot sauce? Because if tolerance for hot sauce is representative of the killing urge, all y'all are in trouble right now.

Mmmmmmm hot sauce.

Gaius Arbo said...

In a world full of dumb studies, this one is right up at the top of the list.

I don't get a rush handling guns, but then I'm used to handling them. I used to get a rush when they were still novel. I think that's more what this study shows, not anything nefarious.

altoids1306 said...

*shrug*... Proper gun safety requires a certain amount of hypervigilance, so I wouldn't be surprised if the higher stress levels are physically manifest in higher hormone levels.

I would guess that holding a gun (particularly a handgun) raises your heart and breathing rate, makes you more alert, and more sensitive to perceived threats.

I also don't think this is particular to guns. I'm pretty sure this would happen by holding anything that can cause significant unintentional physical harm - a hunting knife, a circular saw, or staple gun.

Does holding a gun make you more aggressive? Different question all together.

MadisonMan said...

I used to get a rush when they were still novel. I think that's more what this study shows

There is no evidence to support or counter this claim, however, in the study results as reported.

I wouldn't say this was a dumb study, but the presentation of study results really leads to more questions than it answers.

Even the method to gauge aggression, putting hot sauce in water, has me laughing. My son loves spicy food -- maybe he'd put in lots of drops because he wants to share his love of spiciness -- it might not have anything at all to do with aggression. In a sample size of 30, that'll make quite an impact.

CB said...

Professor,
I think that your headline and conclusion are a bit irresponsible, not to mention very silly. I can accept the study's conclusion--it's not exactly surprising that a gun would cause a physiological response that a child's toy does not. However, testosterone does not equal the urge to kill, and I'm surprised that you would make that tired assertion. I would guess that you would get the same results if you replaced the gun in this experiment with a camera, a skillsaw, a lawnmower, a set of blueprints, etc, etc.

Pogo said...

Boy, I love Bad Science, where the research has near-infinite variables and results in nearly-infinite interpretations. Writing meaningless twaddle is quite alot of work, as well.

Maybe next they'll compare cortisol levels when a female co-ed is presented with (1) a room full of cranky 5-year-olds compared to (2) a comfy chair. I smell a grant proposal coming on!

Local researcher: Women prefer cushions over children.

Wurly said...

Perhaps an increase in testosterone levels merely leads to an increased desire to play practical jokes! Seriously, how many women are very good at playing practical jokes?

Alternatively, does anyone know whether elevated testosterone levels might lead to a reduced sensitivity to the "hotness" in hot sauce? (An increased ability to withstand pain.)
Perhaps during the taste test portion, the "gun handling" guys thought that the hot sauce was mild, leading them to increase the amount for the next taster.

CB said...

I cross-posted with altoids1306, & would respond that maybe it's not even the potential for physical harm, just the need for grown-up thought and action.

Mack said...

This seems pretty obvious to me. Take two guys. Give one a giant battle axe, and give the other a foam mallet. Guess what! The first one tends to become more aggressive. Or at least feel more physically powerful.

Would we be skeptical if a study showed that giving a boy a wooden sword initiated a different physiological response than giving him a barbie doll? Or a pair of socks? I wouldn't.

Of course, it doesn't make weapons an inherently bad thing. No doubt, it's something specific social training could overcome. As a default response, though, the study seems pretty predictable to me.

J.P. said...

I don't have any problem believing that the handling of the firearm produced higher levels of testosterone. What I don't believe can be concluded from this study is why it resulted in higher levels of testosterone.

Certainly in the case of some people unfamiliar with firearms, the heightened hormone levels could be a result of fear or uneasiness. In other cases, it could be a result of carrying out a task that is intensely mechanical.

I wouldn't doubt that had I participated in the study, my testosterone level would have been elevated too. This wouldn't be a result of an unfamiliarity with firearms, but rather because of my love for firearms. As another poster mentioned, shooting many rounds of ammunition precisely requires much skill and concentration, while also being an incredible high. There is also the factor of the incredible detail and quality craftmanship that goes into a fine firearm, something that excites every shooter and evokes admiration.

Whether a male is familiar with firearms or has never touched one, I would be surprised if handling a gun didn't cause elevated testosterone. As a result, it isn't something that you can draw any hard conclusions from. Because if handling firearms and elevated testosterone levels cause someone to kill people, then my guns and/or hormones are defective.

To err may be human, but to aim true is divine.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CB said...

S.C.,
Bullets don't kill people, massive internal trauma kills people.

geekWithA.45 said...

Guns don't kill people.

They make bullets go really, really fast.

Wickedpinto said...

a real gun, and a plastic toy.

they are objects of a completely different nature. They chose mousetrap becuase you have to use problem solving skills to assemble, and dissamble it, just like you need the same skills to dissassmeble and assemble the gun.

Thats where the comparissons end. the nature of the objects is completely different, a gun is a not only a weapon, it is a symbol of death, so the assembly and disassembly of the gun has the thought and symbol present in the minds of a person working through the problem of assembly. Even an unloaded gun gives off a sense of excitement dread and a lot of other very extreme sensations.

what sensations are symbolized by a game that everyone played once, and never bothered to again, cuz they always lost a piece, or broke one?

Uncle Jimbo said...

And people wonder why the rest of us think pointy headed scientist types are a joke.

The very idea that this study proves anything causative is wrong. It proves they were able to measure something they cannot evaluate. Who cares.

Cordially,

Uncle J

tiggeril said...

I dunno if it's because I'm female or what, but I think I'd be more likely to run around whacking people with a foam mallet than with a battle axe.

It'd make running errands a lot more fun, that's for sure!

brylin said...

I wonder what the results would be on testosterone levels if the choices were to play basketball or to play with dolls?

Or to say it another way, perhaps there are many tasks that would result in different testosterone levels.

And why not try drops of honey instead of drops of hot sauce? If more honey drops were added, then would that show that guns produced more love?

I think the test was biased to produce a politically correct result.

Eli Blake said...

tiggeril:

I've known a couple of women who have had the urge to go out and kill something. But you are right, that at least ninety percent of the time it's males.

I am a male, and I never quite understood that urge, but I know it's there. If you go out into the desert, sometimes you will occasionally run across rabbits, snakes, etc. that have died an unnatural death (like being shot, being intentionally run over by an off road vehicle, or otherwise meeting a violent end like being stomped dead by cowboy boots). And I guarantee you that at least ninety percent of them were killed by males.

Like I said, I don't quite understand it, but I know we males are collectively guilty of it.

Eli Blake said...

A fairer comparison would have been something made of gray metal and not associated with children -- maybe a motor.

Not a good comparison. If there is one thing that will make a guy feel as powerful as a gun, it's sitting behind the wheel of a car with a big, loud engine.

Quadraginta said...

Others have well covered the protean nature of this doofus Rorschach-research, so let me comment on a broader issue:

Let's just stipulate the point these psychologists strain mightily to establish: that exposure to icons and symbols -- guns, childrens' games, children themselves, violent or peaceful images, angry or soothing words, color photos of mothers, apple pie, naked girls, et cetera and so forth ad infinitum -- affects our thinking, and this has concrete biochemical manifestations. I mean, how could it not, eh? Unless we were so oblivious that we made no mental associates with objects and images at all, then one of the main "conclusions" here seems as obvious as that water is wet.

But...er...so what? If we are nothing more than deterministic machines that respond robotically to our every impulse, we're just screwed. The theory goes: being human and conscious, we have choices in how we respond to all these generated feelings, testosterone levels, impulses, and whatnot. The theory is that what makes us grown-up is our ability to (mostly) act according to rational decisions that may or may not be consistent with generated feelings caused by, e.g. guns on the table.

Does the hot-sauce experiment contradict this? Let's not be silly. That someone might, in a hopped-up, "manly" kind of mood, think a little extra hot sauce might be amusing, or appropriate, does not imply the same person is more likely to choose to kill someone. I mean, unless you're a total Skinnerian determinist and think us all utter prisoners of our impulses and drives.

In which case -- what's the point of the research at all? If we have no real choices, we can ipso facto not respond constructively to any knowledge these experiments produce.

tiggeril said...

Eli Blake: I'd presume it has to do with the hunting instinct vs. the gathering instinct. Nothing to be ashamed of.

anazaptist said...

Now, if half the subjects who assembled the guns drank the hot sauce and shot the other subjects, then you'd have something. The willingness to give someone a little extra hot sauce probably does not equate directly to an increased willingness to kill somebody. If could get a big juicy federal grant to do a follow-up study, I could probably prove that.

On a marginally serious note, the increased testosterone levels are not surprising when you think of the what might be going through the imaginations of the subjects. Gun assembly = Predator, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction. MouseTrap = Nathan Lane, Mister Rogers, Chip and Dale.

I do wonder though what would have happened if instead of assembling MouseTrap, they had to watch a ten-minute Barney video...

Ann Althouse said...

Wurly: "Perhaps an increase in testosterone levels merely leads to an increased desire to play practical jokes! Seriously, how many women are very good at playing practical jokes?"

Good call. Female comedians should arm themselves. Also women who want to be able to enjoy the Three Stooges with their boyfriends

XWL said...

So Prof., do you point to these 'conclusions in search of a study' to discredit the softening of the social science disciplines?

Agenda driven studies that purport to be about scientific inquiry undermine all studies within that discipline area.

Yet, the folks that use these methods don't care about a lack of credibility in the general world, so long as they get to publish papers out of their biased and flawed 'experiments'.

Plus, they will get plenty of positive reinforcement within their community of 'scientests' to do more of the same.

Disgusting.

Synova said...

And females are collectively guilty of screaming "kill it, kill it, kill it!" and letting men do their dirty work. ;-)

Guns are a rush, though, and girls tend to be excellent shots, on average.

I did a couple psych studies when I was in college and they never study what they tell you they study. Once I realized that, if I'd walked into a room and found a gun I'd probably go into full analytical mode trying to puzzle out what the study was really about.

And I'd *really* like to see if it made any difference to exchange honey for the hot sauce.

L. Ron Halfelven said...

We've got testosterone, right here in River City! With a capital T, and that rhymes with G...

Ann Althouse said...

And I'm standing there under that flag with your carbine
Between my legs, you know I felt so free of death beyond me
I felt so free, the F.B.I. is looking for me baby...

trent said...

At Alphecca, he made a point regarding the "research" they conducted and failed to mention other things regarding higher testosterone levels.
http://www.alphecca.com/mt_alphecca_archives/002288.html

"What the article failed to mention is that maybe the students (all 30 of them) were not used to handling a firearm in the first place. Certainly a firearm is a lot more interesting than a boring board game like Mouse Trap. If a youthful person had never even held a handgun, wouldn't there be a surge of something? I understand that men who handled women's breasts (such as their wive's or girlfriend's) had a higher testosterone level (Bet they were salivating...) than those who handled cantalopes... How many run out and rape women?"

I can pretty much speak for all males including you that we all get turned on by the sight or feel of women's breast. Obviously these douchebags don't consider other factors regarding testosterone levels.

It's like saying "We conducted a research and we found that males do not have high testosterone levels when in contact with other males compared to females." It's obviously a given.

Plus in our society today, we're grown to like machineries, being on the edge, building things, computers, etc and there would be no doubt that testosterone levels would go up compared to cooking, taking care of kids, etc which obviously will remain neutral.

Al Maviva said...

The obvious comparison is being overlooked here.

Nobody has mentioned the fact that men in long term relationships with women have lower testosterone levels than single men.

Therefore, women who refuse to date single men, on demand, contribute to violence. Especially if the men are creepy loner types with lots of guns.

Yep, that's right. Guns don't kill people. Women who aren't attracted to creepy loners with guns kill people.

Yeah, That's a leap, but it probably has about as much real world validity as this study does...

Eli Blake said...

tiggeril:

I'm not ashamed in that it's natural (although I don't happen to have that urge, even when I do have a gun, so it's not universal. I'm not talking about hunting here either-- more about gratuitous killing like I've seen some guys do but not had the urge to do myself.) And as I said, I have known a couple of women who genuinely enjoyed gratuitous killing as much as any man. But that's relatively rare. Almost always, it's men (or more often, teenage boys).

I think that the instinct is present much more strongly in men than it is in women.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

"I can pretty much speak for all males including you that we all get turned on by the sight or feel of women's breast."

Speak for yourself, trent, baby. Forget the breats, guns and Mousetrap game and give me a lad with nice, tight pectorals; I might empty the entire bottle of hot sauce in the cup.

Seven Machos said...

Palladian -- Pectorals? Breasts? What's the difference, really?

tiggeril said...

Eli: My apologies- I misunderstood. I wonder if it's related to the idea that men tend to be more active than women in terms of confrontations. With all the talk that's been happening about bullying, that's a difference that's come up.

LarryK said...

This story makes me so goddamn mad. Where did I put my Luger? I think it's over here. Wait, what's that? Why it's my Mousetrap game. Ahhhh...I feel better already.

Word verification: kfourk - a new abbreviation for KFC's famous spork? Hmmm...KFC.

Palladian said...

"Palladian -- Pectorals? Breasts? What's the difference, really?"

That's what my bi-guy friends always tell me.

Gaius Arbo said...

I think the whole report on the study raised my testosterone level. I fell the urge to kick something. Or shoot it. Or something.

Verification: zskvre, I believe that means "bring the gun" in Slobovian.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tiggeril said...

That reminds me. How many people have gotten pissed off enough to almost come to blows over a game of Trivial Pursuit/Monopoly/Risk? My friends in college were your typical peaceniks, but god help you if you got between them and the blue wedge.

The Drill SGT said...

I'm a guy who never really hunted anything except people. Though I have been around guns a long time.

I spent quite a few (40) years around guns. I'm not surprised at the reactions. I have a very healthy respect (read fear) of guns. Particularly strange guns.

Having said that, I think the investigators had an agenda here. If they had wanted to be more objective, they would have tracked adrenaline as well. I KNOW my adrenaline goes up when I handle a strange gun. (strange = dangerous). My pistol, once cleared, not a threat.

Having said that, I know my adrenaline is even higher, holding a chain saw, they scare me even more, than a pistol. :)

I bet both male and female adrenaline goes up when a pistol is presented. and male hormones as well. That is a fear response, not a aggression response.

Douglas said...

Yet another study with a desired result in mind. If they want to study testosterone in males, why don't hey just do that? What would it would do to the hot sauce if you make the choice between a .22 zip gun and a mac-10. I imagine you would find the same results.

Ann Althouse said...

Tiggeril: I think Risk is the game that provokes aggression.

Paul said...

Gun Control advocates will keep working until they get results they want, the more studies academia can produce with the desired results are what they need to pressure congress and disinterested Americans who buy into these studies.

David said...

Talk about a stupid study. Of course it rev's your engine. Thats why I shoot sporting clays.

Did Mr. Obvious do this study?

Wickedpinto said...

I was inspired by that disgusting pro-life keychain post on Chris's blog.

Which is a more reasonable comparisson? the metabolic differences between grown men (I assume all men) when faced with a childs toy and a weapon of death.

Or a Woman, no matter their opinion walking into a room and being faced with a table that contains a jar of a fetal pig, in one case, or a fetal human in the other? What sort of metabolic changes will women experience when faced with that sort of conflict?

THAT, I bet, would be a clear psychosocial political commentary, that would startle everyone.

SteveR said...

We have discussed it here before, a game of Risk can be very agressive. Especially when someone dares to break my Ukraine-Middle East, divide the world in two wall. Don't go there!

Synova said...

I had one biology class that had fetal humans in jars... after the first day I sat where I couldn't see them.

Alec Rawls said...

"So I guess there's no way around it: Guns don't kill people. Guns make people want to kill people."

That would be only if an increase in testoserone implied a desire to kill people. My experience (!) is that it leads to an increased desire to stop aggressors from killing people. Like guns and hot sauce, it isn't the testoserone itself is neither bad nor good. It is the uses it is put to that matter.

AlaskaJack said...

What if those who chose guns had a predisposition towards hot sauce? If so, we can conclude that hot sauce not only creates an attraction for guns but also is responsible for male violence.

A Nobel prize surely awaits the social scientist who demonstrates this.

Conan said...

A totally flawed and useless experiment that will onlygive fodder tho the anti-gun crowd. I shota few guns as a pre-teen, bougt several recently (military surplus) and when I have play online games like Call of Duty. Total kill-em-first kind of war sims. Yet I would not hurt a flea. I don't want pistols around my house even (well , yet..). Please don't generalize at all from this silly study. (or I will shoot you. Oops that slipped) haha

Illuminatus said...

Ann Althouse said...
Tiggeril: I think Risk is the game that provokes aggression.

It does not, and I'll kick the crap out of anyone whos says it does............

Unknown said...

So the real villian here is the testosterone. Its not the gun at all. What we are dealing with here is a case against the hormone that makes a male distinct from a female. This is the first thing that our society wants gone,feminists and Neo social movements want it gone so men don't do what comes natural, question wrongdoing and fight against it if necessary. Second i have never seen a gun act by itself so we have to assume that its the testosterone that makes a person kill if you want to use the argument that guns kill, this further demonizes the male because now he can't help but want to kill. So if all males are now wild animals that need to be controlled this is how you explain the need to effeminize men, you "reprogram" them. Sorry... testosterone doesn't make a man want to kill, a distorted view of human life makes one want to kill this is also true with females, you can attribute this to mental illness. Ill keep my testosterone thank you its there for a reason, and may i add testosterone is feared by tyrants who need a docile society in order to flourish