A new study has found that someone holding a gun appears to other people to be bigger than they actually.
MSNBC reports that researchers out of UCLA conducted an experiment in which people looked at pictures of the hands of men holding things. The hands were all the same size and in the same position, but some of the objects were more threatening than others.
Then, participants picked from among silhouettes that suggested how tall or muscular they thought the rest of the man's body was.
When participants saw a hand holding a .45 caliber handgun or a kitchen knife, the researchers report in the journal PLoS ONE, they picked silhouettes that were taller and more muscular than if they saw a hand holding a drill, a small handsaw, a caulking gun, a paintbrush or a colorful toy water gun.
"What we think we're tapping into here is a system that summarizes many, many variables in a single, easy-to-think form, namely a picture in your head, and ultimately we think that this then is the key variable that is used in calculations of what to do next," said lead researcher Daniel Fessler, an evolutionary anthropologist.
Fessler said this type of evaluation of our opponents has been going on since the beginning of time.