Learning to relax is obviously a useful strategy for dealing with unwanted anger. There are lots of ways to relax, however (see here for examples of mediation, deep breathing, and taking timeouts). One of the best is to use visual imagery where you visualize a relaxing experience from your memory or your imagination (a trip the the beach, a hike in the woods, etc.).
In fact, if you’re not good at coming up with visualizations on your own, you can even find a few websites with free visualization scrips for you to practice with (see here for an example).
We have all heard the jokes about “bitchy resting face” and what it means for women who have naturally angry looking faces. But, as it turns out, there may actually be some science behind the joke. A recent article by Mareike Jaensch and colleagues, published in a 2014 issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology, investigated how facial expression would play a role in whether or not men would maximize their viewing time of attractive vs. unattractive female faces. In the study, they exposed male participants to both attractive and unattractive female faces, varying whether those faces were expressing happy, neutral, or angry emotions.
The researchers found that while males still rated the angry, “attractive” faces as more attractive, on average, than the “unattractive” faces, they actively worked to reduce the amount of time they spent viewing them and increased viewing time of the happy and neutral attractive faces. Past research suggests that because an angry expression is an “aversive stimulus,” it indicates potential harm, thus encouraging avoidance. In other words, if males sense no chance of a reward, they move on quickly.0
By Allie Nelson
Allie is a senior with Psychology and Human Development majors. She plans on graduating in May of 2015 and attending graduate school.
This morning, before I had my first sip of coffee, I had learned the following: (1) my friends’ daughter was sick, (2) another friend, more distant, was pregnant, and (3) that legislators in my state have been embracing all sorts of policies I find harmful. That’s right, within ten minutes of waking up, Facebook had provided me with opportunities to feel sadness, joy, and anger. Contrast that with ten years ago, pre-Facebook, when I would have spent that time… staring out the window, probably. Honestly, what did I do while waiting for my coffee to brew before I had Facebook?
Read at Psychology Today
Anger isn’t caused directly by things that happen around us. It’s caused by our interpretation of those things that happen around us. Imagine if someone cuts in front of you in line at the grocery store. You can interpret that a couple of different ways: intentional (“he saw me and just didn’t care that he was cutting in front of me”) or unintentional (“he must not have seen me”).
Sometimes, considering alternative interpretations of the provocation can be a nice way to alleviate anger. Ask yourself what evidence you have to support your angering interpretation. Try to consider other ways of looking at the situation and maybe even try to test those alternative interpretations. What would happen if you, for example, were to say politely to the person that they accidently cut in front of you?
My Spring 2015 Research Team got together to talk about Veruca Salt, fairness, mental health, and how psychological entitlement predicts general anger and situational anger at God.
Listen here: I Deserve Better and God Knows it: Psychological Entitlement as a Robust Predictor of Anger at God
On February 13, 2015, my work was discussed on Invisibilia, a podcast on NPR that “explores the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.”
The episode, Our Computers, Ourselves, asks “are computers changing human character? Is our closeness with computers changing us as a species?” It can be heard here: http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=3&islist=true&id=64&d=02-13-2015
When you find yourself becoming angry, try to visualize yourself as calm and peaceful. Imagine yourself relaxed, your voice calm, and your hands steady. You’ll find that as you imagine yourself this way, you’ll start to become this way. Over time, your anger responses will reflect this.
On November 24th, 2014, I spoke on HuffPost Live about “morality virals.”
You can watch here: Are Viral ‘Morality’ Videos Just ‘Self-Righteous’ ‘Hollow’ Clickbait?