Pickel (1998)

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Pickel (1998)


Aim – To investigate whether weapon focus (the incapacity to recall certain details of an incident due to the narrowing of attention) is due to the unusualness of an object, or the threat that object poses. 2 laboratory experiments were conducted to test this.


Procedure 1 – 230 psychology undergraduates were shown a 2 minute video reconstruction of a hair salon incident. They were shown the outside of the salon and then footage of the inside with a female receptionist sitting behind a counter. A man then entered and approached the receptionist who handed him money over the counter. The man left and got in the passenger seat of a waiting car which drove away. An independent measures design was used in this experiment. Participants were randomly allocated to 1 of 5 conditions, which varied depending on which item the man was holding in his hand when he was speaking to the receptionist. The items were categorised according to their unusualness and threat. The items were as follows:

·         Scissors (high threat, low unusualness because of hair salon)

·         A handgun (high threat, high unusualness)

·         A wallet (low threat, low unusualness)

·         A raw chicken (low threat, high unusualness)

·         Nothing (this was used as a control condition)

After watching the footage the participants completed a filler task for 10 minutes, and then they filled in a questionnaire which required them to remember details about the receptionist and the man, including what he was holding in his hand and what they thought he was doing in the hair salon.


Results 1 – These are the results for the 1st experiment (mean score)

·         Scissors – 8.14

·         Handgun – 7.83

·         Wallet – 8.53

·         Raw chicken – 7.21

·         Nothing – 9.02


Conclusion 1 – The handgun and raw chicken resulted in the lowest


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