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Report: Holding a Gun Makes Man Look Taller

by Shooting Times News   |  April 18th, 2012 12
UCLA study

This photo, provided by PLoS ONE, shows various photos shown to participants in a series of studies, which found that holding a handgun makes a man appear taller and stronger.

Does a gun actually change one’s outward appearance?

It’s been long established that you can take any ordinary schmo, give him a gun, and suddenly he’s James Bond. Even Dirty Harry may not have looked as “dirty” if it wasn’t for his trusty Smith & Wesson Model 29.

Guns may make a guy look cooler — but do they change anything else? According to a recent study, they do. Guns make guys look taller.

A team of researchers at UCLA concluded that holding a gun makes a man look taller and stronger in the viewers’ eyes than a knife, saw or any other tools.

Published in the journal PLoS ONE, the study was conducted to understand human decision making when facing a potentially violent or life-threatening situation.

“Violent conflict with conspecifics is a fundamental factor influencing fitness in many social species, humans included,” the study says in the introduction. “We can therefore expect that such species will possess adaptations that facilitate decision-making in potentially agonistic interactions, as the individual must determine whether is it best to fight, flee, or appease the prospective foe.”

Participants in the study were instructed to judge the size and weight of a man holding various tools — including a .45-caliber pistol and a .357 revolver, as well as a kitchen knife, a caulking gun, a saw and others.

Whether it’s because of cultural stigma or the implied strength required to fire a handgun, researchers found that participants generally perceived those with guns to be taller and larger.

“Knowing that an individual possesses a potentially lethal object, be it a handgun or a kitchen knife, led our U.S. participants to generally conceptualize the target individual as taller and larger in overall body size and muscularity,” the study says. “… These findings constitute preliminary evidence in support of the hypothesis that conceptualized size and strength act as key dimensions in a cognitive representation that summarizes the formidability of a potential foe, where possession of a weapon is one factor contributing to said formidability.”

It’s a given that staring down the barrel of a gun can be pretty intimidating, but who would have guessed just holding a handgun could make a shooter look bigger and stronger?

  • untacticool

    It surely makes the one holding it FEEL taller, if observed behavior is any indicator. It's the Walter Mitty syndrome, ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa.
    Instant John Rambo – just add one handgun, and mix thoroughly

  • JohnMN

    "a man holding various tools — including a .45-caliber pistol and a .357 revolver"
    Did anyone else see a .45 caliber pistol? I saw a beretta model 92 (or maybe a .40 cal model 96).

    • bob

      thanks i didn't think id be the only one who noticed

  • Alan_T

    Two men , each holding a gun walk into a bar …. the third man holding a gun ducks …….
    Actually the findings shouldn't surprise anyone , it's all about perception , Same way as a short barreled stainless steel .44 or .45 revolver LOOKS more deadly than any other handgun . Statistically , most people being robbed by a criminal holding said revolver , about all they can remember is the gun and how huge it looked .

    • Drapper

      Alan t you're too funny dude !

  • Guest

    LOL took me a minute to get it, youre too funny!

  • Guest

    That is a stupid test. The man in the back is standing further behind in the second photo so the perspective is completely different. The different perspective makes the man holding the gun look taller.

  • Jeepers Creepers

    Good idea to be armed when facing a threat from attack. It doesn't matter the size of the firearm. Once an bad person sees that you can defend yourself they back off. For personal reason I carry my firearm not really to protect myself, But to protect the person that would want to attack me. I have a mental disorder that lends me to believe that all life is worth less than a cup of coffee. By carrying a firearm it subdues my feelings. If a person sees the firearm and turns around and leaves I do not need to use deadly force of any kind.

  • John

    1. "Speak softly & carry a big stick. " (Theodore Roosevelt.)
    2. "Be not afraid of any man no matter what his size, when danger threatens call on me and I will equalize." (Allegedly inscribed on ivory grips of an old Colt revolver.)
    3. If holding a gun can make a man look taller. Can indiscreetly concealing one make a man look longer? (The woman in my life.)
    :) :) :)

  • Gary Owens

    I just wounder who funded this stupid study. Tax payers you suppose?

  • Justin

    I thought the same thing JohnMN said, pretty sure that picture is of a Beretta 92 or 96

  • Charles

    I don't know about taller but any man holding a firearm around me certainly is more interesting then someone holding a saw, for example. Out of all the tools pictured the firearms are the only ones that can ruin your day from across the room.

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