According to public opinion, members of shooting organizations (i.e. shooters) are thought to be more aggressive than other groups in society. Also, guns are generally seen as stimuli that elicit aggressive behaviour. The present study examined whether shooters are really more aggressive than non-shooters. Shooters and non-shooters were compared on measures of aggressive behaviour, aggressive fantasies, impulsivity, and main personality dimensions (i.e. neuroticism, psychoticism, and extraversion). The results showed that members of shooting associations were less aggressive and impulsive than non-members, even when controlling for their tendency to present themselves in a more favourable manner. These findings suggest that there is no reason to consider hobby shooters a priori as more aggressive. A possible explanation could be that for shooters, their positively coloured experiences with guns have changed the aggression eliciting effect that normally occurs when interacting with guns (i.e. the weapons effect). These findings are discussed in light of the cognitive script theory of aggression by Huesmann.

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Psychology, Crime and Law
Department of Psychology

Nagtegaal, M., Rassin, E., & Muris, P. (2009). Do members of shooting associations display higher levels of aggression?. Psychology, Crime and Law, 15(4), 313–325. doi:10.1080/10683160802241682