“Research suggests individuals may be able to ‘guess’ cannabis users based upon their appearance in a photograph…”
While it’s true that academic research allows us to objectively discuss the pros and cons of cannabis use in a responsible manner, every once in a while a study comes along that makes us thoroughly question who’s in charge of allocating federal grant money.
Back in June 2018, the U.S. National Library of Medicine published a general outline of a new study that examined something called the “Jay-Dar Phenomenon”, which is the apparent ability for random individuals to discriminate between marijuana users and non-users based solely on a photograph.
Confused yet? Us too. Let us try and explain a little better.
So… Explain the study again?
A few years back, a small randomized study suggested that most people are able to distinguish a marijuana user from a non-user, simply by looking at a photograph of each person. However, the study failed to take into consideration a few key details, such as gender balance (most of the photographs were of males) or whether or not the person “guessing” was a cannabis user themselves.
This new study showed photographs of 36 different people (18 weed users and 18 non-users) to a sample of 249 randomly-selected individuals (121 female, 128 male), and had them rate each photograph using a ‘Marijuana Use Likelihood Index’. In other words, the 249 people in the study were shown photos of 36 different people and they had to guess whether or not each person was a cannabis user or not.
“Study participants were shown photos of 36 different people, and they had to guess whether or not each person was a marijuana user or not…”
To make matters more interesting, for each individual they thought was a weed user they had to list the physical features that made them come to that conclusion. Also, each participant in the study had to state whether or not they were a cannabis user themselves, and how frequently they used marijuana.
So how did the results turn out?
In accordance with the researchers’ hypothesis, the majority of participants were able to correctly guess from the 36 photographs who was a weed user, and who was not a weed user. Interestingly, however, participants of the study who were not weed users had a tendency to rate males as being more likely to use cannabis then females; participants who were cannabis users showed no such gender bias between users and non-users.
“The majority of participants in the study were correctly able to guess who was a weed user, and who was not a weed user.”
Simply put, results of the study showed that most individuals are able to correctly distinguish between marijuana users and non-users, based on appearance alone.
But what were the physical features that “gave away” whether or not each person was a weed user? We’ll have to wait a couple of months to learn about that, as the complete study will not be published until December 2018 (Substance Use & Misuse).
Annnd… what was the point of this study?
If you’re wondering what the hell the point of this whole thing was, you’re certainly not alone — we’re a little confused about it too, to be honest.
In the written summary, researchers noted the findings had significant implications not only for “research on chronic cannabis use effects,” but also for “social and achievement factors such as potential stigma.”
“Results [of the study] may have significant implications on detecting ‘chronic cannabis use effects,’ as well as identifying ‘social and achievement factors like potential stigma.’
Hmmm, so are they basically objectifying the age-old stereotype that weed users are “low achievers,” and/or “social outcasts”? It kind of sounds like it to us.
Whatever the case is, we just want to see the pictures of those 36 people they used in the study. I mean think about it – show someone a pic of a guy that looks like Snoop Dogg, and another one of a guy that looks like Al Gore, and pretty much anyone on earth will be able to tell you who the stoner is there.
Study Importance Rater: 2/10
GENERAL TAKEAWAY FROM THE STUDY
|General topic||Physical appearance of marijuana users vs non-users|
|Study title||“The “Jay-Dar” Phenomenon: Individuals Discriminate Cannabis Users from Nonusers Based Upon a Photograph”|
|Journal/Publication date||Substance Use & Misuse: December, 2018. 6;53(14):2359-2367.|
|Summary||Based on physical appearance alone, most people are able to distinguish a marijuana user from a non-user.|
[What are your thoughts about this study — is it ethical? Is it moral? Was it a total waste of time? Is there anything practical we could do with the information learned from it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!]