Guns as a source of order and chaos: Compensatory control and the psychological (dis)utility of guns for liberals and conservatives

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Firearms are one the most contentious consumer products in the United States, with opinions on guns being strongly divided along liberal versus conservative lines. The current research leverages compensatory control theory (CCT; Kay et al. 2008) to show how the same underlying need to see the world as orderly and nonrandom can help explain both sides of this divide, with liberals (conservatives) seeing guns as a source of disorder (order) in the world. Across three experiments we find that when imagining holding a gun (vs. not), liberals report less personal control and in turn more negative emotion compared to conservatives. We also find that in situations that are inherently chaotic and disorderly (i.e., shootings), liberals see the introduction of another firearm (i.e., an armed citizen) as introducing more disorder into the situation, whereas conservatives see armed citizens as providing more order to the situation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Shepherd, S; Kay, AC

Published Date

  • January 1, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 3 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 16 - 26

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2378-1823

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2378-1815

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1086/695761

Citation Source

  • Scopus