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Holding a gun may make you look bigger, stronger

Thursday - 4/12/2012, 4:48pm  ET

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A new study finds those with guns appear bigger and more muscular than those without guns. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON - People with guns appear bigger and more formidable in the eyes of the beholder, a new study finds.

The study, published in the Public Library of Science by Daniel Fessler and his colleagues from the University of California, Los Angeles, found those with guns are perceived as being physically more intimidating.

When placed in harrowing situations, human beings tend to look for a quick way to assess whether to fight or flee, essentially making snap judgments of their opponents, The Economist reports.

Fessler found that weapons can essentially add extra inches and bigger muscles to a combatant. He recruited volunteers to gauge height, size and muscularity of four men. Each man was carrying a different object: a caulking gun, a power drill, a handsaw or a .45 calibre handgun.

Volunteers found the man holding the gun to be taller and bigger than the other men.

Fessler redid the experiment using a knife, instead of a gun, and found the same results.

He determined that it's not just guns that make a person appear bigger and stronger, it's weapons in general.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)