BASP Field Experiments

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Description: For almost forty years gun ownership and the motivational underpinnings of why guns are valued has received little attention in psychology. Using motivation science theories that explain value creation (regulatory focus and regulatory fit), we tested for fit between fundamental motivations and gun ownership. Our field experiments at American gun shows demonstrate a motivational fit, congruency between gun ownership and the motivation to avoid, prevent, and maintain vigilance. By verbally manipulating regulatory focus, we isolated how guns are valued more by prevention motivations than by promotion. We speculate that prevention similarly motivates gun rights advocacy. Our research is agnostic regarding the legal and moral components of the gun rights debate. Instead, we examine the malleability of gun value as a function of regulatory focus and regulatory fit, and also provide evidence for fit effects with distinct motivational environments.

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