On edge

Kevin Lewis

September 02, 2017

Guns Automatically Prime Aggressive Thoughts, Regardless of Whether a "Good Guy" or "Bad Guy" Holds the Gun
Brad Bushman
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

The mere presence of weapons can increase aggression - called the "weapons effect." Weapons are theorized to increase aggression by priming aggressive thoughts. This research tested the robustness of the weapons effect using two large representative samples of American adults (total N = 1,097). Participants saw photos of criminals, soldiers, police in military gear, or police in regular gear with guns. Experiment 2 also included a condition with photos of Olympians with guns used to shoot inanimate targets. The control group was police in plainclothes without guns. The accessibility of aggressive thoughts was measured using a word fragment task (e.g., KI_ _ can be completed as KILL or KISS). Photos of individuals with guns used to shoot human targets primed aggressive thoughts, regardless of whether a "good guy" (soldier, police) or "bad guy" (criminal) held the gun. Photos of Olympians with guns used to shoot inanimate targets did not prime aggressive thoughts.

Heart rate, serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) genotype, and violence in an incarcerated sample
Todd Armstrong et al.
Journal of Criminal Justice, July 2017, Pages 1-8

Methods: Data were gathered from an incarcerated sample of males in a large city jail in the southern United States (n = 90). Arrest rates for violence and property crime were considered separately.

Results: The interaction between low heart rate and 5-HTTLPR L/L genotype was associated with arrest rates for violence, but not property offenses. Higher arrest rates for violence occurred among individuals with both low resting heart rate and the 5-HTTLPR L/L genotype.

Tennis grunts communicate acoustic cues to sex and contest outcome
Jordan Raine, Katarzyna Pisanski & David Reby
Animal Behaviour, August 2017, Pages 47-55

Despite their ubiquity in human behaviour, the communicative functions of nonverbal vocalizations remain poorly understood. Here, we analysed the acoustic structure of tennis grunts, nonverbal vocalizations produced in a competitive context. We predicted that tennis grunts convey information about the vocalizer and context, similar to nonhuman vocal displays. Specifically, we tested whether the fundamental frequency (F0) of tennis grunts conveys static cues to a player's sex, height, weight, and age, and covaries dynamically with tennis shot type (a proxy of body posture) and the progress and outcome of male and female professional tennis contests. We also performed playback experiments (using natural and resynthesized stimuli) to assess the perceptual relevance of tennis grunts. The F0 of tennis grunts predicted player sex, but not age or body size. Serve grunts had higher F0 than forehand and backhand grunts, grunts produced later in contests had higher F0 than those produced earlier, and grunts produced during contests that players won had a lower F0 than those produced during lost contests. This difference in F0 between losses and wins emerged early in matches, and did not change in magnitude as the match progressed, suggesting a possible role of physiological and/or psychological factors manifesting early or even before matches. Playbacks revealed that listeners use grunt F0 to infer sex and contest outcome. These findings indicate that tennis grunts communicate information about both the vocalizer and contest, consistent with nonhuman mammal vocalizations.

Sabotaging Another: Priming Competition Increases Cheating Behavior in Tournaments
Mary Rigdon & Alexander D'Esterre
Southern Economic Journal, forthcoming

Trophy. Goal. Dominated. Does priming individuals with competitive concepts such as these influence the temptation to cheat? We utilize a standard laboratory cheating task in a tournament setting and test whether nonconscious priming impacts the nature of cheating behavior. The results demonstrate an asymmetry in a winner-take-all setting: a competitive prime does not increase cheating to improve one's own outcome, but does significantly increase the willingness of an individual to sabotage a competitor.

Trash-talking: Competitive incivility motivates rivalry, performance, and unethical behavior
Jeremy Yip, Maurice Schweitzer & Samir Nurmohamed
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming

Trash-talking increases the psychological stakes of competition and motivates targets to outperform their opponents. In Studies 1 and 2, participants in a competition who were targets of trash-talking outperformed participants who faced the same economic incentives, but were not targets of trash-talking. Perceptions of rivalry mediate the relationship between trash-talking and effort-based performance. In Study 3, we find that targets of trash-talking were particularly motivated to punish their opponents and see them lose. In Study 4, we identify a boundary condition, and show that trash-talking increases effort in competitive interactions, but incivility decreases effort in cooperative interactions. In Study 5, we find that targets of trash-talking were more likely to cheat in a competition than were participants who received neutral messages. In Study 6, we demonstrate that trash-talking harms performance when the performance task involves creativity. Taken together, our findings reveal that trash-talking is a common workplace behavior that can foster rivalry and motivate both constructive and destructive behavior.

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