Dr. Martens’ Extermination Machine

Dr. Andy Martens,  of the psychology dept. at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and colleagues from the University of Arizona, US, have devised an Extermination Machine [pictured at right]. The machine was designed to experimentally investigate a bug-killing paradigm – in order to provide clues towards answering the  the question ‘Might killing something (in this case some pill bugs) fuel the urge for subsequent killing (in this case some more pill bugs) ?’
The results of the experiments suggest that it may do, and thus “Implications for understanding lethal human violence are discussed.”

But aside from the human implications, some may ask ‘What of the poor bugs?’ Happily, we can reassure insect lovers that the Extermination Machine was, in reality, harmless…

“Inserted at the base of the tube was an unseen stopper, which prevented bugs from actually entering into the vicinity of the grinder blades. The apparatus was fitted with an activation button, which, when depressed, initiated the grinder such that the blades could be heard and felt to spin with strong force. Torn bits of paper were planted within the grinder, so as to simulate the sound of grinding bugs”

The research, ‘Killing Begets Killing: Evidence From a Bug-Killing Paradigm That Initial Killing Fuels Subsequent Killing’ was published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, September 2007, vol. 33, no. 9, pp. 1251-1264, and can be read in full here.

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