Paolo Frugarello Elena Rusconi Remo Job

Less familiar but more dangerous. Gender effects on improper weapons

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If an item is offensive in and of itself (referred to here as proper) or if it has been modified for use as a weapon or is carried with the intent to cause harm (referred to here as improper), it is typically classified as a weapon under the law, with restrictions on its use and possession in public areas. However, there is not much support for this distinction in psychology. We conducted an online survey to assess people’s perceptions of three different object categories – proper weapons, improper weapons, and everyday objects – across four dimensions (familiarity, imagery concordance, visual complexity, color diagnosticity). Responses from 160 adult participants show that the three categories of objects differ significantly in terms of familiarity, with proper weapons being the least familiar and improper weapons being in the center. Compared to men, women exhibit less familiarity with improper weapons and less imagery concordance for proper and improper weapons. The findings provide intriguing clues about the psychological reality of improper weapons in comparison to proper weapons, and they may serve as a springboard for further investigation about such distinction


  • Weapons
  • familiarity
  • visual perception
  • gender differences


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