Is it Strange or is it Scary? Examining Salience and Arousal Explanations of the “Weapons Focus Effect”

Dominic Willmott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

There is a mass of research literature providing evidence for the ‘Weapon Focus’ effect which although traditionally accounted for in terms of an Arousal explanation, underpinned by Easterbrook’s (1959) Cue-Utilisation Hypothesis, recently research has favoured causation of such an effect in terms of a Salience explanation, understood in terms of Schematic memory structures. However, neither explanation as of yet has been able to conclusively disprove the other. In a study measuring the physiology and memory of participants, in conditions specifically designed to improve on past literatures methodological shortfalls, the effects of both explanations were meticulously separated out in an attempt to clearly investigate differences between them. Findings displayed that although differences emerged between memory scores and levels of physiological arousal between salience and arousal conditions, such were not to a significant extent. Methodological shortfalls within the current experiment and past research studies are thought to account for the failure to produce a weapons focus effect or further significant differences, however critical evaluation and deeper consideration of the current theoretical accounts identifies the inadequacy of these explanations, as well as future suggestions on how such might be improved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-33
Number of pages33
JournalInternet Journal of Criminology
Volume2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Fingerprint

weapon
physiology
utilization
experiment
evaluation
evidence
literature

Cite this

@article{bc7cf5e085cd464d8816d62d3b1b7650,
title = "Is it Strange or is it Scary? Examining Salience and Arousal Explanations of the “Weapons Focus Effect”",
abstract = "There is a mass of research literature providing evidence for the ‘Weapon Focus’ effect which although traditionally accounted for in terms of an Arousal explanation, underpinned by Easterbrook’s (1959) Cue-Utilisation Hypothesis, recently research has favoured causation of such an effect in terms of a Salience explanation, understood in terms of Schematic memory structures. However, neither explanation as of yet has been able to conclusively disprove the other. In a study measuring the physiology and memory of participants, in conditions specifically designed to improve on past literatures methodological shortfalls, the effects of both explanations were meticulously separated out in an attempt to clearly investigate differences between them. Findings displayed that although differences emerged between memory scores and levels of physiological arousal between salience and arousal conditions, such were not to a significant extent. Methodological shortfalls within the current experiment and past research studies are thought to account for the failure to produce a weapons focus effect or further significant differences, however critical evaluation and deeper consideration of the current theoretical accounts identifies the inadequacy of these explanations, as well as future suggestions on how such might be improved.",
keywords = "Weapons Focus Effect, Object Salience, Arousal, Emotional Responsiveness",
author = "Dominic Willmott",
year = "2017",
language = "English",
volume = "2017",
pages = "1--33",
journal = "Internet Journal of Criminology",

}

Is it Strange or is it Scary? Examining Salience and Arousal Explanations of the “Weapons Focus Effect”. / Willmott, Dominic.

In: Internet Journal of Criminology, Vol. 2017, 2017, p. 1-33.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Is it Strange or is it Scary? Examining Salience and Arousal Explanations of the “Weapons Focus Effect”

AU - Willmott, Dominic

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - There is a mass of research literature providing evidence for the ‘Weapon Focus’ effect which although traditionally accounted for in terms of an Arousal explanation, underpinned by Easterbrook’s (1959) Cue-Utilisation Hypothesis, recently research has favoured causation of such an effect in terms of a Salience explanation, understood in terms of Schematic memory structures. However, neither explanation as of yet has been able to conclusively disprove the other. In a study measuring the physiology and memory of participants, in conditions specifically designed to improve on past literatures methodological shortfalls, the effects of both explanations were meticulously separated out in an attempt to clearly investigate differences between them. Findings displayed that although differences emerged between memory scores and levels of physiological arousal between salience and arousal conditions, such were not to a significant extent. Methodological shortfalls within the current experiment and past research studies are thought to account for the failure to produce a weapons focus effect or further significant differences, however critical evaluation and deeper consideration of the current theoretical accounts identifies the inadequacy of these explanations, as well as future suggestions on how such might be improved.

AB - There is a mass of research literature providing evidence for the ‘Weapon Focus’ effect which although traditionally accounted for in terms of an Arousal explanation, underpinned by Easterbrook’s (1959) Cue-Utilisation Hypothesis, recently research has favoured causation of such an effect in terms of a Salience explanation, understood in terms of Schematic memory structures. However, neither explanation as of yet has been able to conclusively disprove the other. In a study measuring the physiology and memory of participants, in conditions specifically designed to improve on past literatures methodological shortfalls, the effects of both explanations were meticulously separated out in an attempt to clearly investigate differences between them. Findings displayed that although differences emerged between memory scores and levels of physiological arousal between salience and arousal conditions, such were not to a significant extent. Methodological shortfalls within the current experiment and past research studies are thought to account for the failure to produce a weapons focus effect or further significant differences, however critical evaluation and deeper consideration of the current theoretical accounts identifies the inadequacy of these explanations, as well as future suggestions on how such might be improved.

KW - Weapons Focus Effect

KW - Object Salience

KW - Arousal

KW - Emotional Responsiveness

UR - https://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/undergraduate-masters-dissertations

M3 - Article

VL - 2017

SP - 1

EP - 33

JO - Internet Journal of Criminology

JF - Internet Journal of Criminology

ER -