Marines looking to appear a bit taller may just need to pick up their guns.
Holding a gun could give the illusion of a boost in height and muscle mass, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles.
Participants were given photos of men’s hands holding various items. They were asked to judge the man’s height based on the photos. Those holding guns or large kitchen knives were conceptualized as more physically imposing — taller, with bigger muscles — than those holding more mundane items, like a paintbrush or caulking gun.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE— which is part of a larger project funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research — looks at the ways humans assess threats. In determining how to react to potential conflict, humans take in factors like sex, size, age and weaponry. That might explain why they assume someone with a deadly weapon would be bigger, or harder to fight.
The study did not indicate how tall it was thought a man holding an M16 would be.