Facial Expressions and Personality Traits

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crabby_womanHaving a happy expression will make you appear more confident in your interactions. This is according to a 2018 study by Ueda and Yoshikawa that found a couple of key findings: First, people with angry facial expressions are seen as having a more dominant and aggressive personality. They are therefore seen as being able to dominate others by physical strength and behaviors. Meanwhile, those with happy expressions are seen as being more dominant than those expressing other emotions due to having a relatively higher social standing than others they are interacting with.

The study involved showing participants pictures of individuals expressing different emotions and participants were asked to rate those pictures based on perceived dominance  In the one person pictures, people with the angrier expressions were seen as more dominant.  Contrary to expectations, the results were different when participants were shown a picture of a two-person interaction. In the two-person interaction, the person who appeared happy was seen as being more dominant than the angry person.

The difference in how people evaluate dominance for individuals versus pairs shows that being more dominant in a social setting is not the result of appearing more ready to dominate others by physical strength and behaviors. Whether a person appears dominant through expressing angry or happy emotions may give insight into their potential behavior. People who appear angry may try to use physical strength and behaviors to obtain their goals. People who appear happy in an interaction, particularly during an argument, may be better able to hide their anger, which allows them to remain calm and appear confident. Their happiness could also imply that they are winning the argument. It is important for people to be able to distinguish between these two types of dominance so that they can understand how they appear in their interactions and so they can evaluate the personality and social standing of others, modifying their own behaviors accordingly.


Ueda, Y., & Yoshikawa, S. (2018). Beyond personality traits: Which facial expressions imply dominance in two-person interaction scenes? Emotion, 18(6), 872-885. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000286


Unknown-225x300by Torrey Lucido

Torrey is a junior majoring in Psychology at The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with and emphasis in Brain, Behavior, and Health. After graduating she plans to earn a graduate degree in occupational therapy and work with patients with brain injury and developmental disabilities.

 

Five Facts About… Curiosity?

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Doing something a little different today as I prepare for a talk on a very different emotion than I usually write about.  I’m about to speak to a group of high school teachers about the value of curiosity in the classroom, so I thought I would post some interesting curiosity facts to get started.

Here they are:

Losing Control: Apologize and We’ll Let it Go

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In this episode of All the Rage, Ryan and Chuck respond to a few infamous Youtube clips of people losing control. Part one of this special series on “losing control” will help us think about what losing control means, how and why some people lose their cool, and it’ll help us ask “are we REALLY ourselves when we’re mad.”

YouTube Clips Discussed in the Episode

 

 

Special Series on Losing Control: Trailer

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In this trailer for our special series on losing control, Ryan and Chuck provide a sneak peak at what you can expect over the next few months.

Focused on losing control, this series includes interviews with social psychologists, neuropsychologists, and other experts on what happens when people get really really angry. The first episode comes out on October 23, 2018.

Anger Management Tip: Take a Timeout

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breathe-airWhen I was a kid, there was a PSA on TV from time to time that went something like this: “When you feel yourself getting tense. Stop. Two. Three….  Breath. Two. Three…. Think your way to sense.”

Despite the cheesy phrasing, timeouts are a good thing for adults, teens, and kids alike.  They can help us calm down when we’re frustrated.  So, the next time you’re feeling angry, take a break, count to five, or walk away from the person you are frustrated with until your anger dissipates.


PodcastCheck out the All the Rage Podcast to learn more about anger and violence


 

ryanBy Dr. Ryan C. Martin
Ryan is the chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and a nationally known anger researcher.  His work focuses on healthy and unhealthy expressions of anger, including how we express anger online.

Find Ryan on Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat (rycmart)

How Does Anger Change as We Age?

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crabby_womanDo people really get crabbier as they get older?  Not according to a recent study in the Journal of Aging and Mental Health.  The authors of the study, Drs. Sarah Robertson and Rhonda Swickert, asked a group of 80 young adults (ages 18-34) and a group of 80 older adults (ages 60-91) to recall a negative emotional story about their lives.  They were encouraged to try to imagined the event in their mind and talk about the thoughts and feelings they had related to the event.

They then analyzed the content of those descriptions, looking for negative emotion words like sad, mad, scared, annoyed, etc.  They created a general category for “negative emotions” and three subcategories: anxiety (e.g., worried, fearful), sadness (e.g., crying, grief), and anger (e.g., hate, kill).


PodcastCheck out the All the Rage Podcast to learn more about anger and violence


The purpose of the study was to explore socioemotional selectivity.  This is the theory, originally described in a 1999 American Psychologist article By Dr. Laura Carstensen and her colleagues, that as we get older we put a premium on positive emotions and try to maximize those feelings while minimizing negative feelings.  Basically, it is a little mini-emotional midlife crisis where you realize that life is short and you should not waste it feeling sad, scared, or angry.

So what did Robertson and Swickert find?  Well, in some ways, their results did not look the way they expected.  They hypothesized that age would be negatively associated with negative emotion word use.  That did not happen.  But, while there were no differences on negative emotion words across the board, there were with anger words.  Older adults expressed fewer anger words in their writing than younger adults did.

They also found something interesting related to forgiveness. They had given everyone a questionnaire designed to measure their tendency to forgive across different situations.  Related to anger, they found that younger adults who scored low on this forgiveness scale (i.e., those who were less forgiving) scored higher on anger words than younger adults who scored high on the forgiveness scale.  As they described it, “forgiveness essentially allows for the abandonment of feelings of hurt and resentment in response to a transgression” and that tendency to forgive led to fewer anger words in their writing.


ryanBy Dr. Ryan C. Martin
Ryan is the chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and a nationally known anger researcher.  His work focuses on healthy and unhealthy expressions of anger, including how we express anger online.

Find Ryan on Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat (rycmart)

Goodbye, My Darlings….

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Dear graduates,

It’s that time of year again; when I have to say goodbye to another group of AMAZING students.  Now, If there’s one thing I have learned over the last few years it’s that I can’t get away with not writing one of these goodbye messages where I reference a bunch of old movies (see here for past letters: Elf, Bridesmaids, Pitch Perfect, Mean Girls).  I tried to tell students I didn’t want to this year.  I said, “but words are useless! Gobble, gobble, gobble…too much, darling, too much!”  They wouldn’t allow it, though.  They said, “Pull yourself together! The public is in danger!”  So now I’m sitting in my office trying to write this letter. I spent the first couple of minutes just swearing at my computer… for that is my creative process.

But don’t worry, I’m on it.  And like the other goodbye letters, this one is going to be incredible… too.

We had a pretty amazing year; the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference, the PSI Talks, our open house.  I was exhausted when it was all over.  I was like “We’re dead! We survived but we’re dead!”  But you all helped push me through it as you always do.  In the end, it was totally wicked!

By now, most of you know that I can’t be at graduation this year.  It’s not my fault.  My wife is graduating on the same day and I can’t be at both.  I tried to convince her.  I was like, “We are talking about the greater good!” but she was like, “Greater good?’ I am your wife! I’m the greatest good you are ever gonna get!” She’s right, of course, but it doesn’t change the fact that I had big plans for that day.  I was finally gonna tell you all what I think.  I had a whole speech about good guys and bad guys and those shows you used to watch on Saturday mornings.  I was gonna make funny puns like, “ice of you to drop by”, but not anymore….

The truth is, I really don’t want you all to go.  In fact, I’ve been masterminding plans to keep you here.  Those plans mostly involve failing you so you have to retake classes, but I’ve also considered sabotaging the library elevator to keep you stuck on the top floor along with other elaborate evil-villain-like traps.  Honestly, nothing is beneath me.  Now I’ve got your attention, don’t I? Now you respect me, because I’m a threat!  That’s the way it works. Turns out, there are a lot of people, whole countries, who want respect, and they will pay through the nose to get it!

You sly dogs! You had me monologuing.

So that’s it.  You’re all done.  You’ve worked hard, you’ve done great things, but it’s time to go.  Once you’re gone, don’t look back.  I never look back, darlings. It distracts me from the now.  So don’t worry about me.  I’ll be fine.  In fact, if you want to bet on something, bet on your own life!  But when you’re out there, doing your thing, just trust me that I’m your number one fan!

In the meantime, keep being amazing.

Sincerely,

Ryan

PS. I’m going to give you one last piece of unsolicited advice.  On your first day of work, remember, even though you deserve them… No capes!

Human Trafficking: A Topic that Gets a Reaction Out of People

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In this fifth episode of season 2 of All the Rage, we talk human trafficking in popular culture with Dr. Bryan Carr, host of Serious Fun. From Taken to The Punisher to The Girl Who Played with Fire, we discuss the various ways modern day slavery has found its way into the popular culture and how these depictions influence the public.

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