Smart Rage: How the Emotionally Intelligent Use Anger

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Have you ever been in a situation where you have been so angry at someone that you had to constantly remind yourself to keep your cool? Many people attempt to suppress anger in such situations, mostly because they believe the argument will go over better if they do. Besides, who really wants to be angry all the time anyways? Wouldn’t you rather feel the more pleasant emotion of happiness?

According to recent research in the Journal of Emotion, though, it may be smarter to get angry in such situations, and ultimately, individuals who do not mind feeling angry sometimes display higher levels of emotional intelligence.

According to lead researcher of the study, Brett Ford, “anger is a very useful emotion to feel when one needs to be confrontational, assertive, or aggressive.” Her study focused on whether or not feeling anger could actually be beneficial to the individual, and whether or not their willingness to feel anger was related to emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence relates to an individual’s ability to understand, reason, and use emotions and emotional knowledge to better his or her thoughts and actions. It is argued that the greater the emotional intelligence of an individual, the greater overall mental health and well-being of that person.

A person who is considered to be emotionally intelligent is able to take the emotions he or she experiences, including those typically viewed as negative, and use them to pursue and succeed in their personal goals. Ford believes that the primary message of her research is that it, “challenges assumptions about the emotions people want to feel or ‘should’ feel to live a happy, successful life.” This study concluded that preferring useful emotions like anger when attempting to reach a confrontational goal was indeed connected to individuals with higher emotional intelligence.  According to Ford, “There is a time and place for anger, just like all emotions.”

By Rian Lamb
Rian Lamb is  a senior Psychology major with minors in Human Development and Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.  She plans on attending graduate school next fall.