Short Fuse: Anger and the Spread of Fake News

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all-the-rage-podcast-art-finalIn this quick episode, we talk about how anger has propagated the spread of fake news across various social media platforms.

All the Rage is a podcast from Drs. Ryan Martin and Chuck Rybak at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. From road rage to internet trolls, All the Rage covers all topics related to anger and violence. If you want to be a guest, or just have a question or an idea for an episode, call or text (920) 328-5167 or email me at martinr@uwgb.edu.


Episode 3: The Inciting World of Sports

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all-the-rage-podcast-art-finalHow do sports fans cope when a game doesn’t go their way? Do domestic violence rates really go up on football Sundays? In this episode, Ryan and Chuck talk about the anger sports fans feel when things don’t go their way. They interview fans, talk about domestic violence rates, and provide some hands-on tips for people who get a little too invested in sports.

All the Rage is a brand new podcast from Drs. Ryan Martin and Chuck Rybak at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. From road rage to internet trolls, All the Rage covers all topics related to anger and violence. If you want to be a guest, or just have a question or an idea for an episode, call or text (920) 328-5167 or email me at martinr@uwgb.edu.



Ryan and Chuck live from Lambeau Field on November 6th, 2016.

The Days After: Coping with Election Grief (a short fuse)

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In this Short Fuse, we talk about how to cope with the anger you may be feeling in response to the recent presidential election.

All the Rage is a podcast from Drs. Ryan Martin and Chuck Rybak at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. From road rage to internet trolls, All the Rage covers all topics related to anger and violence. If you want to be a guest, or just have a question or an idea for an episode, call or text (920) 328-5167 or email me at martinr@uwgb.edu.


Creating Beautiful Art and Raising Money for a Great Cause Through #Inktober

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I’m a contestant in the Dancing with Our Stars fundraiser for the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter of the American Red Cross.  As part of that, I am working to raise as much money as I can and have put together and incredible fundraising team of people from across the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.  In late September, one member of my team, Kimberly Vlies, sent me a Facebook message that read,

I could draw ball point pen portraits of people for #Inktober. Proceeds to the team?

I, of course, had no idea what this meant.  I had no idea what #Inktober was and only sort of knew what she meant by ball point pen portraits.  What I knew was that (a) Kimberly is incredibly talented and (b) Kimberly has lots of great ideas.  So if she thought it would work, I was on board.

I did, however, go look up #Inktober.  And you know what?  It’s pretty great (learn more here: http://inktober.com/). Every October, artists from all over the world take the challenge by doing one ink drawing a day for 31 days.  It has spurred beautiful work, much of which can be seen on Twitter or Facebook, including this incredible series (near and dear to my heart as a psychologist) from Shawn Coss illustrating different forms of mental illness.

Kimberly’s idea was to draw ball point pen portraits by request for $15 each (or more when there were multiple people or it was otherwise more complicated).  She would draw either from photos that people submitted to her or from a live model when people were able to actually sit for the portrait.  She would do one a day, post the pictures to the Facebook page for the fundraiser, and the requester would get to keep the portrait.  Both Kimberly and I suspected that this fundraiser would be successful, but neither of us anticipated just how successful (more on that in a bit).

First, here’s a little bit about Kimberly.  She’s a graphic designer in the Marketing and Communication Office at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.  She has two degrees, Graphic Communications and Spanish, from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, but she has been interested in art since she was in the 4th grade and learned that her artistic skills were several years ahead of her age.  She first learned about #Inktober through a friend, Ivan San Martin, a fellow artist she had met years earlier when she studied in Spain.  He posted his own #Inktober art on Facebook and she was inspired.

I was interested in giving it a try myself, but knew that coming up with a subject for daily practice would be difficult.  Years ago I got the idea to draw portraits as a part of a social media campaign from a guy who would snap photos of people he met at conferences, draw them and post their drawings to social media. People got a huge kick out of being tagged in their drawings and it generated social engagement.

The initial launch of our #Inktober fundraiser was really fun.  There happened to be a Red Cross Blood Drive on campus the day we wanted to kick things off so we launched the campaign with her first drawing from there.

And here she is actually drawing me.

I can tell you as a non-artist who appreciates art, this was really interesting.  She talked me through her process, explained the challenges, and told me how she became interested in art.  For example:

Drawing from life is more challenging because there is an additional step of translating 3-D information to 2-D. If my model moves, I move or I look out one eye or the other, the whole reference point changes and I have to do my best to recalibrate. There is an immediacy to it that forces me to capture the energy of gesture lines, rather than train my tunnel vision on exact details.

And from that, the #Inktober campaign took off.  The 31 slots filled up in no time.  People wanted portraits of their kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and pets.  They requested them as gifts for their partners and parents.  Each day when we posted a portrait on the Facebook page, it got liked, shared, and received a host of positive comments.  Here are just a few of those wonderful portraits (including the ones she did of my kids; check here for the rest):

We had hoped to raise $500, but because so many people donated a little extra when they paid for their portraits, we ended up raising far more than that.  I asked Kimberly if she expected this sort of response:

I did not expect the response to be this overwhelmingly positive. I was better than 50% sure it would work. I figured we could find 31 people who would buy a drawing. I set the price low just in case it would be hard to find takers, and I wanted it to be accessible/affordable for anyone.

What was most surprising to me, though, wasn’t the success of the fundraiser.  It was her response when I asked her what was most challenging about the fundraiser.  I expected her to say the hardest part was finding the time to draw.  Instead, though, she pointed to the self-doubt doubt she feels when she sits down to draw.

Each time I pick up the pen, I am confronted with self-doubt. It doesn’t matter that I have a B.F.A. or that I’ve been drawing my entire life, I’m so afraid that I can’t do it. I have to convince myself that whatever I do will be ok and just proceed with the drawing. As I work on each drawing, I vacillate wildly between thinking I’m doing ok and thinking I’ve ruined the drawing beyond repair. When each drawing is done, I’m surprised with how well it turned out and it feels like somebody else did it.

I didn’t expect someone so talented to talk about self-doubt.  I also know, though, as a psychologist and emotion researcher that people find inspiration and motivation in a variety of ways.  For many, some anxiety is part of the creative process.

The money she raised will go to a great cause, one that is near and dear to her heart.  Kimberly is not only a great artist and wonderful friend, she’s a dedicated blood donor.

The American Red Cross has a special place in my heart because I have blood type O-, which means I’m the universal donor.  This means that in life-or-death situations, when there’s no time to evaluate blood type, they can grab a bag of my blood and know it won’t contain conflicting antigens.  Type O- blood makes up 7% of the population and I’m really proud that I can help save lives. The Red Cross is known for their blood drives, but they also do very important humanitarian work, like responding to disasters world-wide, vaccinating children in 3rd world countries, helping individual families in military deployment or devastated by fire. The Red Cross also offers excellent training and certification programs for first aid, CPR, and AED, babysitting and child care, lifeguarding and CNA work.

You can follow Kimberly Vlies on Twitter at @kvlies or visit her website: http://kimberlyvlies.com

Short Fuse: The Angry Bot on Twitter

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all-the-rage-podcast-art-finalIn this Short Fuse, we talk about a recent study that explored the role of “bots” on Twitter and how they might be influencing political anger.

All the Rage is a podcast from Drs. Ryan Martin and Chuck Rybak at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. From road rage to internet trolls, All the Rage covers all topics related to anger and violence. If you want to be a guest, or just have a question or an idea for an episode, call or text (920) 328-5167 or email me at martinr@uwgb.edu.


 

 

Short Fuse: National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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all-the-rage-podcast-art-finalIn this Short Fuse, we talk about how October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We’ll discuss the history of the month, why it’s important, and some important facts about domestic violence in the United States.

All the Rage is a podcast from Drs. Ryan Martin and Chuck Rybak at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. From road rage to internet trolls, All the Rage covers all topics related to anger and violence. If you want to be a guest, or just have a question or an idea for an episode, call or text (920) 328-5167 or email me at martinr@uwgb.edu.

Anger is a Swing State

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This is a companion essay, written by Annie Jones and Ryan Martin, to Episode 2: Anger is a Swing State of the All the Rage Podcast.


all-the-rage-podcast-art-finalWith the presidential debates in full swing, we are no strangers to the emotions associated with them.  Like all elections, the presidential election has brought a lot of anger and disappointment for many voters. In light of all the rage, online and elsewhere, it seems like a good time to talk about why people get so angry over politics.

At the heart of it, people get angry about politics for the same reason they get angry about anything (listen here for details).  They interpret the political process or the outcome as negative, unfair, unjustified, or blameworthy.  When a candidate says something they don’t agree with, they interpret it as unreasonable.  When they find out that their friend supports a candidate they dislike, they interpret it as a disruption of their friendship.

Even though anger over politics comes from the same basic principles as other anger, there are a few reasons why politics, in particular, can lead to such intense anger:

  1. Exaggerated Claims: It’s well known that politicians tend to make exaggerated claims about their accomplishments or their opponent’s positions.  Those claims are often designed with the explicit purpose of making people angry (e.g., “my opponent voted for the largest tax increase in history”, “my opponent wants to dismantle social security”).  Thus, it isn’t surprising that those who believe the claims respond with frustration.  Meanwhile, it’s likely that those who don’t believe them respond with anger over what they perceive as dishonesty.
  2. Selective Attention: Related to these exaggerated claims, voters seem to have a habit of only paying attention to the information that supports their perspective.  They tend to believe the claims of the candidate they endorse and to perceive the claims of the other as being dishonest.  They then look only for evidence that confirms their positions and ignore the data that refutes them.  The Internet has made it all the easier to only pay attention to confirming evidence.  If people believe a certain thing, they can usually find a website to validate their position.  It’s also made the spread of these exaggerated claims even easier because anyone can post just about anything on the Internet or send it out via email without regard for truth or accuracy.  Ultimately, what this means is that people will dichotomize by lumping the candidates and their supporters into groups (e.g., completely right vs. completely wrong) and fail to understand how the other side of an issue may have some validity.
  3. Feelings of Isolation: Another interesting aspect of politics is that people find out, in a way they don’t normally, how many other people in the city, state, or country agree or disagree with them.  When one is on the losing side of an election, it’s easy to feel isolated (e.g., “I can’t believe there are so many people out there who don’t get it”).  That feeling of isolation can spawn feelings of resentment and frustration.
  4. Language Use Surrounding Politics: For a very long time, we have used war or combat as a metaphor for elections. This is evident in the language we use to describe them (e.g., battleground states, campaigns, taking shots, firing back, attack ads, gaining and losing ground).  Such language is not meaningless.  How we talk about something is a reflection of how we think of it, and if we talk about elections in aggressive terms, we likely come to think of them as aggressive and violent experiences.   Something as simple as a change in the way we discuss or describe politics could maybe have an effect on how we view it. Instead of a fight, it could be a race or even a conversation.
  5. Anger as Appropriate: Sometimes, what we perceive as an anger problem might be more of an impulse control/aggression problem.  There is actually a place for healthy and productive anger in the political process.  If we think of anger as a valuable tool in alerting us to problems and motivating us to confront those problems, it’s perfectly reasonable to get angry when elected officials and candidates act irresponsibly, endorse positions that may harm us, etc.  The decisions that are made by elected officials affect many people in very real ways.  Consequently, some are affected quite negatively and, potentially, unfairly by those decisions (e.g., decreased funding to certain programs, increased taxes) and an angry response might be both reasonable and healthy.

It is also fair to acknowledge that politicians have a vested interest in making us angry, as shown by Dr. Timothy Ryan of the University of Michigan, who took an interesting look at what makes us click on advertisements associated with politics in his 2012 article, What Makes Us Click? Demonstrating Incentives for Angry Discourse with Digital-Age Field Experiments. He was interested in look at how anxiety and anger evoking ads might make one more or less likely to click on it.

Although fear and anger are both used in political campaigns, this study shows that anger better motivated participants to click on and read political ads. In this experiment, Ryan exposed Internet users to a randomly assigned political advertisement during the course of routine web browsing. They either received a neutral text, a text evoking anxiety, or a text evoking anger.

The results confirm the idea that politicians have a strong incentive to use emotionally charged communication. It was found the anger-inducing advertisement more than doubled the click-rate of the political advertisement.  From a financial perspective, a campaign should use anger in their ads to increase the impact of those ads.

With a better idea of where all this political anger comes from, one can take precautions to reduce the negative feelings associated with the electron. A great anger management tip is to start your day in an uplifting way, try to avoid the use of social media or even television. During the election season, our news, whether via television, newspapers, or our social media feeds, tend to be full of angering information related to politics.  Waking up to these could put you in a negative mood right from the start. Avoiding this can allow you to start your day with reduced negative stimulation. Along these lines, try not to seek out things that you know will anger you.  While people should try to stay informed, they can also find ways not to invite angering stimuli into their lives.


 

Ryan, T. J. (2012). What makes us Click? Demonstrating incentives for angry discourse with digital-age field experiments. Journal of Politics, 74(4), 1138-1152. doi:10.1017/S0022381612000540


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By Annie Jones

Annie is a senior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development, Human Biology, and German. After graduating from UWGB, she plans on attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison for their Genetic Counseling Master’s program.

 

 

Episode 2: Anger is a Swing State

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all-the-rage-podcast-art-finalIn this election episode, Drs. Chuck Rybak and Ryan Martin discuss the various reasons why people get angry over politics. We also talk with Adam, a former congressional staffer, about his experience dealing with constituent rage. Finally, as always, we talk about recent rage research and provide some anger management tips.

 


All the Rage is a brand new podcast from Drs. Ryan Martin and Chuck Rybak at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. From road rage to internet trolls, All the Rage covers all topics related to anger and violence. If you want to be a guest, or just have a question or an idea for an episode, call or text (920) 328-5167 or email me at martinr@uwgb.edu.

Episode 1: Why We Get Mad

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In this first episode of All the Rage, I talk about the circumstances in which people are likely to get angry. I also chat with Will about a time he got angry, breaking down the individual and situational factors that led to that anger. Finally, I discuss some recent rage research and end with an anger management tip.

You can learn more about Why We Get Mad by reading the companion piece by UW-Green Bay student, Allee Schramm

All the Rage is a brand new podcast from Dr. Ryan Martin, psychologist and anger researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. From road rage to internet trolls, All the Rage covers all topics related to anger and violence. If you want to be a guest, or just have a question or an idea for an episode, call or text (920) 328-5167 or email me at martinr@uwgb.edu.

Why We Get Mad

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This is a companion essay, written by Allee Schramm, to Episode 1: Why We Get Mad of the All the Rage Podcast.


all-the-rage-podcast-art-finalWe’ve all been there before. Maybe you’re driving to work, already running behind, and someone in front of you is driving too slow.  Your patience is running thin, and you snap. You yell, honk, or maybe even issue a crude hand gesture to the driver in front of you.

Good news: you’re not alone. We’ve all been angry before, and we could all tell stories about specific times we when we did something we otherwise wouldn’t have done or even ended up regretting.  The question we end up asking then is… why?

Dr. Jerry Deffenbacher, an anger researcher at Colorado State University, helped us answer that question in a 1996 book chapter, Cognitive-Behavioral Approaches to Anger Reduction, where he outlined a model of how and why we feel anger when we do.

Why We Get MadIn this article, he defined anger as

“an internal affective experience that may vary in intensity and chronicity and can refer both to the experience of the moment (state anger) and to the propensity to experience state anger across time and situations (trait and situation-specific anger)” (p. 33).

In other words, anger is an emotional experience that can be sparked by a variety of experience.  For example, he described four main types of provocations, what he calls “precipitants”:

  1. External situation: Being cut off while driving
  2. External situations that trigger memories: Being insulted may remind you of a time when you were insulted as a child.
  3. Internal states: Continuing to ruminate about an event well after it has happened.
  4. Immediate preanger state: What the person is feeling and thinking when the experience the precipitant.

Deffenbacher also explains that a person’s preanger state, which refers to both what the person is thinking and feeling at the time of the event and to his or her long-standing personality characteristics, influences the likelihood of getting angry.  For example, someone who is more narcissistic or close-minded tends to become angry more easily.  Likewise, when you feel tired, hungry, or are already frustrated, you are more likely to get angry.

Third, and probably most important is what Deffenbacher refers to as the appraisal process.  When we are faced with any sort of precipitant, we ask ourselves some questions: Was the event blameworthy? Was the event justified?   Should it have happened? Can I cope with it?  The answer to those questions predicts whether or not you get angry and how angry you get.

Now, there are some people who tend to be angry thinkers.  They tend to interpret situations in ways that are more likely to make them angry.  In fact, Dr. Ryan Martin, who manages the All the Rage blog and podcast, once developed a survey to measure the types of thoughts that lead to anger (Martin & Dahlen, 2007).  You can take that survey if you want to learn more about yourself and whether or not you tend to have thoughts like these:

  1. Overgeneralizing: a tendency to code events broadly when assessing time (e.g., always, never) and people (e.g., everybody, nobody, cruel, useless).
  2. Catastrophizing: a tendency to appraise events as highly negative, potentially debilitating, and impossible to cope with (e.g., This is awful, What a disaster).
  3. Misattributing Causation: a tendency to jump to negative conclusions while ignoring the possibility of other interpretations.
  4. Demandingnes: a tendency to place one’s own needs and desires above those of others, elevating one’s wishes into dictates over others.
  5. Inflammatory Labeling: a tendency to categorize situations in highly negative ways, often using offensive language and highly emotional terms.

ACS SurveyHow does this apply to a real life situation?  Let’s walk through a precipitant that could result in someone experiencing anger.

Imagine  that you haven’t had the chance to eat much today. You’re pulling into your favorite restaurant and all you can think about is your favorite meal. You’ve made reservations, and when you get there, they don’t seem to have your reservation on file. However, the wait is only 25 minutes, so you appraise the event as disappointing, but an honest mistake that you can cope with.  That said, you definitely feel annoyed and hungry. Finally, you get to sit down and you order your meal. When the meal comes out, you realized that this isn’t what you ordered. What would run through your head as you realize this situation? You’re hungry, they didn’t save your reservation, you had to wait an extra 25 minutes, and now the food you’ve been looking forward to all day is not sitting in front of you like you had wanted. You appraise this set of precipitants as blame worthy and unjustified. Your heart starts to beat faster, you clench your jaw, your face starts to get red, and you get mad.

How do you handle it?  Do you tell the waiter/waitress off? Do you demand the manager and yell at them? Do you start to cry?  Do you storm out to get food elsewhere? Or do you just eat what is in front of you because it’s there, you’re hungry, or you don’t want to make a scene? How people behave in situations like these depends on a host of factors including their personalities, the preanger state, cognitive appraisals, and more.


Deffenbacher, J. L. (1996) Cognitive-behavioral approaches to anger reduction. In K. S. Dobson & K. D. Craig (Eds). Advances in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Martin, R. C., & Dahlen, E. R. (2007). The Angry Cognitions Scale: A new inventory for assessing cognitions in anger. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 25, 155-173.


headshotBy Allee Schramm
Allee is a senior graduating in May of 2017 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Human Development. She plans to attend graduate school in the future to earn her Master’s Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology.