There's a troubling connection between the Dallas and Baton Rouge police shooters

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Baton Rouge: Shooter Details Emerge

Police-related violence has dominated the national conversation in recent weeks.

In Dallas, ex-Army reservist Micah Xavier Johnson killed five police officers and wounded seven on July 7, when he opened fire during a peaceful protest of the police killings of two black men — Alton Sterling in Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Minnesota — earlier that week.

Ten days later, ex-marine Gavin Long ambushed police in Baton Rouge, killing three police officers.

In the weeks that have followed, many in the media and on social media have sought to connect Johnson and Long to activist movements such as Black Lives Matter that advocate for police reform.

Experts refute the connection, saying instead that there is actually a more insidious, under-the-radar link between the two shooters.

Finding a 'justification'

A quick Google search with the shooters' names and Black Lives Matter reveals a bevy of posts on social media, blogs, and conservative-leaning websites playing up the connection, some even going so far as to call the shootings "Black Lives Matter-inspired."

Tristan Bridges and Tara Tober, sociologists at the College of Brockport, SUNY — and who are working on a large-scale analysis of mass shootings in the US — were adamant there is no connection between activist groups like Black Lives Matter and the shootings.

"It's incredibly important to point out that the police shootings are not a part of the Black Lives Matter movement," they wrote in the email. "The shooters may have felt a connection with the frustrations and experiences that motivated the movement, but Black Lives Matter is and has always been a peaceful movement."

Chris Kilmartin, a clinical psychologist at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, told Business Insider that what is actually occurring is a social psychology concept called "outgroup homogeneity effect."

The outgroup homogeniety effect refers to the phenomenon that when someone from a dominant racial or social group commits a crime, it becomes attributed to the individual. But when a person from a minority group commits a crime, it reflects on the whole group, whether or not the individual perpetrator has a mental illness or not.

Micah Xavier JohnsonReuters/Carlo Allegri

The effect is why people like former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh — who declared that "this is now war" after the Dallas shooting — conflate Black Lives Matter protesters with shooters like Long, even though the two aren't related in any way.

"He was essentially declaring war on black people as a whole," Kilmartin said in reference to Walsh.

The opposite example of the phenomenon is the vast number of school shootings committed by young, white males, such as Adam Lanza of the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting in 2012 or Eliot Rodger of the infamous University of California, Santa Barbara, shooting in 2014. In such cases, the media and police tend to emphasize the shooter's mental illness, rather than his or her racial affiliation.

The connection between police reform and the shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge was encouraged by the shooters themselves. A manifesto allegedly written by Long called his attack "a necessary evil" in the "unseen and concealed war within America's police force between Good cops & Bad cops."

Johnson, meanwhile, told Dallas police during negotiations that he was "upset about the recent police shootings," and wanted to "kill white people, especially white officers," reports Business Insider's Natasha Bertrand.

See inside the funerals for the slain Dallas officers:

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Funeral service for slain Dallas police officers
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Funeral service for slain Dallas police officers
Former First Lady Laura Bush (L), former President George Bush (2nd L), First Lady Michelle Obama (3rd L) and U.S. President Barack Obama (R) hold their hands on their hearts as they sing the national anthem at a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Former President George W. Bush attends a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Barack Obama puts his hand to his eyes as he and first lady Michelle Obama attend a memorial service for five policemen killed last week in a sniper attack in Dallas, Texas July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Former first lady Laura Bush, former President George W. Bush, U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama listen to remarks from Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (front) as they attend a memorial service for five policemen killed last week in a sniper attack in Dallas, Texas July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Former President George W. Bush (L) holds hands with first lady Michelle Obama during a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Former President George W. Bush (L) shakes hands with President Barack Obama (R) as he kisses first lady Michelle Obama during a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a memorial service for five policemen killed last week in a sniper attack in Dallas, Texas July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) and his wife Michelle Obama (L) and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings sing during a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Barack Obama raises clasped hands with former President George W. Bush (L), first lady Michelle Obama and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (R) during a memorial service for five policemen killed last week in a sniper attack in Dallas, Texas July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Former president George W. Bush (L) First Lady Michelle Obama (C) and U.S. President Barack Obama sing during a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Former president George W. Bush (L), First Lady Michelle Obama (C) and U.S. President Barack Obama sing during a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Former first lady Laura Bush, Former President George W. Bush and first lady Michelle Obama listen to U.S. President Barack Obama speak during a memorial service for five policemen killed last week in a sniper attack in Dallas, Texas July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A woman sits beside photos of the slain policemen as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a memorial service for the five killed last week in a sniper attack in Dallas, Texas July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama hugs Dallas police chief David Brown at a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Dallas police chief David Brown during a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Former president George W. Bush (L) and First Lady Michelle Obama talk during a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Barack Obama joins in holding hands with former first lady Laura Bush, President George W. Bush, first lady Michelle Obama and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (R) during a memorial service for five policemen killed last week in a sniper attack in Dallas, Texas July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Former president George W. Bush (L) First Lady Michelle Obama (2nd L) U.S. President Barack Obama and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (R) sing during a memorial service following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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Kilmartin dismissed the reasoning provided by Long and Johnson, saying that mass shootings actually occur due to a "toxic cocktail of factors."

"Anybody who acts violently has to find some sort of justification for it," Kilmartin said.

'Toxic masculinity'

The more relevant connection between Long and Johnson is their gender, experts say.

"Masculinity has everything to do with mass shootings," Tober and Bridges, the sociologists said, who explained that most shootings have similarly predictable stories.

"These are the stories of men who felt that they have been denied something they felt due ... " they wrote. "We suggest that the sorts of men who commit mass shootings often feel wronged."

This gendered phenomenon is reflected in crime statistics, according to Kilmartin, who noted that men commit 87% of violent crimes in the US. That number is actually higher: In 2010, 90.3% of offenders arrested for murder were male, according to the FBI.

Though the "vast majority of men are never violent, the large majority of violent people are men," said Kilmartin. "These are indisputable facts — it's not male bashing."

gavin longReuters/Carlo Allegri

Long, the Baton Rouge shooter, had a life-coaching business under the brand "The Cosmo Way." He discussed his ideas around masculinity and what it means to be an "alpha" male, reported NBC. His alleged manifesto asked his family to judge his character as a "MAN," based on the document.

These men commit mass shootings to try and "take back control," according to Tober and Bridges, who noted that, in this way, Long shares "common ground with school shooters."

Kilmartin noted that "toxic masculinity," is reinforced culturally, in the media, in movies, and even on reality television, where bullying can be celebrated.

Said Kilmartin: "We need to have a national discussion about masculinity."

Related: The most iconic photos from the Black Lives Matter movement:

21 PHOTOS
Most iconic photos of Black Lives Matter movement since Ferguson
See Gallery
Most iconic photos of Black Lives Matter movement since Ferguson
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Tear gas rains down on a woman kneeling in the street with her hands in the air after a demonstration over the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his August 9, death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 11: Police force protestors from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown who was killed Saturday in this suburban St. Louis community. Yesterday 32 arrests were made after protests turned into rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 12: A demonstrator protesting the killings of 18-year-olds Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri Police officer and Vonderrit Myers Jr. by an off duty St. Louis police officer gets help after being maced by police on October 12, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis area has been struggling to heal since riots erupted in suburban Ferguson following Brown's death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 3: A demonstrator cries while gathering in Philadelphia to protest the Eric Garner grand jury decision during a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at City Hall December 3, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Organizers called for the demonstration after a grand jury in the Staten Island borough of New York City declined to indict the police officer who used a chokehold on Garner, resulting in his death. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 25: Police confront demonstrators during a protest on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Yesterday protesting turned into rioting following the grand jury announcement to not indict officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during the night-long rioting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Neal Blair, of Augusta, Ga., stands on the lawn of the Capitol building during a rally to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, on Capitol Hill, on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Washington. Thousands of African-Americans crowded on the National Mall Saturday for the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Black Lives Matter supporters embrace after Minneapolis police poured water to extinguish an encampment fire as they continued their protest, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, outside the Fourth Precinct in Minneapolis. The fatal shooting of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man by a Minneapolis police officer, has pushed racial tensions in the city's small but concentrated minority community to the fore, with the police precinct besieged by a makeshift encampment and many protesters. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
A spray painted message of âBlack Lives Matterâ was painted on a monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., Thursday, June 25, 2015. The vandalism comes after a mass shooting in Charleston South Carolina has sparked a nationwide debate on the public display of Confederate imagery. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
FILE - In this March 12, 2015 file photo, police shine a light on a helmet as they investigate the scene where two police officers were shot outside the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo. The one year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown, which sparked months of nationwide protests and launched the "Black Lives Matter" movement, is on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2014 file photo taken with a long exposure, protesters march in the street as lightning flashes in the distance in Ferguson, Mo. The one year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown, which sparked months of nationwide protests and launched the "Black Lives Matter" movement, is on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
A protester has some words with Minneapolis police officers on bikes as a Black Lives Matter protest continued, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, at the Minneapolis Police Department's Fourth Precinct in Minneapolis. It was the fourth day of protests of the killing of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man, by a Minneapolis police officer. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson leaves the Baton Rouge jail in Baton Rouge, La. on Sunday, July 10, 2016. McKesson, three journalists and more than 120 other people were taken into custody in Louisiana over the past two days, authorities said Sunday, after protests over the fatal shooting of an African-American man by two white police officers in Baton Rouge. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Jamine Clark points to the name of his brother, Jamar Clark, on an upside-down flag bearing names of people killed at the hands of police outside the Minneapolis Police Department's Fourth Precinct, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Minneapolis. Black Lives Matter demonstrators have set up an encampment at the precinct which is near the site of the Sunday shooting of Jamar Clark by a Minneapolis police officer. Clark has been taken off life support. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - DECEMBER 20: Thousands of protesters from the group 'Black Lives Matter' disrupt holiday shoppers on December 20, 2014 at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2014 file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James wears a T-shirt reading "I Can't Breathe," during warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets in New York. Celebrities have long played a significant role in social change, from Harry Belafonte marching for civil rights to Muhammad Aliâs anti-war activism. James and other basketball stars made news in 2014 when they wore T-shirts to protest the death of Eric Garner. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
A demonstrator chants during a rally in downtown Manhattan in New York, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, during the Justice for All rally and march. In the past three weeks, grand juries have decided not to indict officers in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York and the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The decisions have unleashed demonstrations and questions about police conduct and whether local prosecutors are the best choice for investigating police. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Parents of Michael Brown, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden listen to a speaker during a rally, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, for their son who was killed by police last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. Brown's shooting in the middle of a street, following a suspected robbery of a box of cigars from a nearby market, has sparked a week of protests, riots and looting in the St. Louis suburb. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A police officer stands over activists, demanding justice for the death of Eric Garner, as they stage a 'die-in' during rush hour at Grand Central Terminal in the Manhattan borough of New York on December 3, 2014. A New York City grand jury on Wednesday returned no indictment against a white police officer who used a chokehold on an unarmed black man who died as police tried to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes, local media reported. The grand jury in the city's borough of Staten Island decided against criminal charges for New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. The deadly encounter on July 17 was captured on a video that quickly spread over the Internet and helped fuel debates about how U.S. police use force, particularly against minorities. REUTERS/Adrees Latif (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TRANSPORT)
A man protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Pastor Charles Burton lies on the driveway at the Ferguson, Mo., police station as a chalk drawing is made as a memorial to Michael Brown, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Activists planned a day of civil disobedience to protest Brown's shooting in August and a second police shooting in St. Louis last week. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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