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.

Short Fuse: #PhelpsFace and the Evolutionary Value of Anger

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Normally, episodes of All the Rage will be about 30 minutes long.  Every now and then, though, I’ll do a much shorter episode, called a Short Fuse, on something topical.

In this Short Fuse, I talk about the #PhelpsFace meme that’s been floating around (see below) and what it tells us about the evolutionary value of anger.

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.

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Preview: All the Rage Podcast

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all-the-rage-podcast-art-finalCheck out a special preview episode of the new All the Rage podcast.  Starting in September, I’ll cover subjects like Road Rage, Internet Trolling, The Catharsis Myth, and more.  Guests will include other anger and violence experts from across the country, along with listeners who just have a great story to tell or question to ask.

In my September episode, I’ll be talking about Why We Get Mad and I’m looking for my first guest- someone who wants to tell a really good story about a time they got angry and help me break down the situational and individual factors that caused that anger.  If you want to be that guest, or just have an idea for an episode or a question, call or text (920) 328-5167 or email me at martinr@uwgb.edu.

Coming Soon: The All the Rage Podcast

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all-the-rage-podcast-art-finalIn September, All the Rage will be launching a monthly podcast on all topics related to anger and violence.  I’ll cover subjects like Road Rage, Internet Trolling, The Catharsis Myth, and more.  Guests will include other anger and violence experts from across the country, along with listeners who just have a great story to tell.

In this first episode, I’ll be talking about Why We Get Mad and I’m looking for my first guest- someone who wants to tell a really good story about a time they got angry and help me break down the situational and individual factors that caused that anger.  If you want to be that guest, or just have an idea for an episode or a question, call or text (920) 328-5167 or email me at martinr@uwgb.edu.

 

Does Anonymity Online Increase the Likelihood of Aggression?

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Online-Anonymity-at-Helmword-LtdIn today’s age of advancing technology and countless social media sites, it’s easier than ever to anonymously comment on posts, pictures and videos.  If you’re like me, you’ve seen some very heated conversations in the comments section of Facebook posts. So, what’s the deal here, are people more aggressive when they know they’re virtually anonymous?  This is the question Adam Zimmerman and Gabriel Ybarra (2016) researched in their Journal Article, “Online Aggression: The Influences of Anonymity and Social Modeling.”

Using 124 undergraduate students from the University of North Florida, the researchers had each of the participants do a word-unscrambling task with 2 other people. If they collectively unscrambled half of the words correctly, they each received a prize; at least this is what they were told.  However, unbeknown to the participants, the game was rigged and they were not actually playing along with others, ensuring that the participants always lost.  This was done in order to simulate an online frustrating social situation in which they felt let down by their “partners.” Participants were then able to write on a blog about their experience.  Half of the participants wrote their blogs anonymously and the other half did not. For both these groups, participants were also exposed to either a neutral blog post, or an aggressive blog post.

As you may have guessed, participants who remained anonymous indicated a higher temptation to purposefully aggress toward their alleged partners and they also used more aggressive words in their blog posts about their experience.  Participants, who were exposed to an aggressive blog post prior to writing their own, were also more aggressive, but only in the anonymous condition.

What these results tell us is that people are more likely to be aggressive online if their identity is anonymous.  Not only that, but if they’re exposed to aggressive posts and their identity is anonymous, they’re even more likely to be aggressive online. We can take these results and use them to influence our own online behavior.  Since we’ve seen that people are more likely to be aggressive online if they know their identity remains anonymous, we can analyze our own behavior as to what’s appropriate to say online. We should make it a point not to use anonymity as an excuse to act more aggressively than we normally would.  Not to mention, if anonymous online users are more likely to act aggressively if they see others doing so, our online aggression could also effect how aggressive others are online as well.  To keep online aggression in check, we can consider whether we would act differently if our identity were known, and adjust our comments and behavior accordingly.

By Nermana Turajlic
Nermana is a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development. She plans on graduating in December 2016 and attending graduate school the following year.


Zimmerman, A. G., & Ybarra, G. J. (2016). Online aggression: The influences of             anonymity and social modeling. Psychology Of Popular Media Culture, 5(2),             181-193. doi:10.1037/ppm0000038

Ending Gun Violence: An Activist’s Guide

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After the horrifying shootings in Orlando last weekend, many Americans are again ready to try and do something about gun violence.  Here are four principles we should all embrace in this important fight.

Principle 1: Don’t Engage With Gun Enthusiasts

I’ve tried to have thoughtful debates about gun violence with gun enthusiasts in the past (I’ve even written some talking points), and I’ve watched as my friends have tried to have those same conversations in the days since the Orlando shooting.  Here’s what I’ve realized:

It’s useless.

It’s useless for the same reason that you shouldn’t try and convince adults that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.  If they still believe guns aren’t the problem, they will simply never stop believing it. You just have to shrug, tell them you’re sorry their brain is broken, and move on.  The good news is that you don’t need to convince them.  The polling is very clear; the majority of Americans support sensible gun laws.  Gun enthusiasts are in the minority and we should be able to easily pass the laws we want and finally become the “gun grabbers” they’ve been calling us all these years.  It makes you wonder why we haven’t done that, which brings us to principle number 2….

Principle 2: Know Who the Enemy Is

Why haven’t we passed those laws despite having an 85% to 15% advantage in polling on some gun control issues?  It’s obviously what the public wants so… why hasn’t it happened?  Everyone knows that answer to that question.  The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the most powerful lobbying organizations on the planet, making sure that we can’t pass the laws we need (or even do the research we need).  They are immensely powerful, spending approximately 32 million dollars in 2014 on both elections and lobbying for/against specific bills.  The fact is that we will never pass meaningful gun legislation until the NRA loses its power, which brings us to principle number 3….

Principle 3: Do Not Donate Money to, Vote For, or Do Business with NRA Members/Supporters 

The first two parts of this seem obvious, but they aren’t.  The NRA donates a lot of money to many candidates, including a bunch of Democrats (in 2014, 11 Democrats in the House of Representatives took money from the NRA), so avoiding their reach is difficult.  In the end, though, we just can’t support anyone the NRA supports, even when we agree with them about other issues.  Make sure those Democrats know that taking money or an endorsement from the NRA means they won’t get money or a vote from you.

This principle isn’t just about politicians, though.  We shouldn’t do any business of any kind with NRA members.  Thinking of hiring someone to renovate your bathroom?  The first question you should ask the contractor is, “Are you an NRA member?”  If the answer is yes, find someone else and make sure he or she knows why.  Is the owner of your favorite restaurant an NRA member? If so, stop eating there and tell him or her why (if they want to argue with you about your decision, see principle 1).  If you think I’m being too harsh, consider this: Most of the NRA’s money comes from membership dues and individual donations from people like the contractor and restaurant owner I just described.  The first way to break the NRA is to make sure that being a member of the NRA or donating to the NRA comes with a cost.  The second way to break the NRA is to strengthen the good organizations that fight against them, which brings us to principle number 4….

Principle 4: Find an Advocacy Organization, and Join it

There are lots of options here, probably more than I’ve listed.  The links below take you to the “About” pages of their websites so you can learn more about each of them.

And don’t just join them and then delete the email they send you each week. Get involved when you can, donate money when you can, and attend rallies when you can. Let’s work to make these groups as formidable as their opposition.

 

 

Fact Check: Is “Hanger” For Real?

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hangerMany, if not all of us, have felt some increased sense of anger when we are hungry (a.k.a. “hangry”).  We hear the term used frequently among friends and now even food commercials use it to help sell their products. However, can someone actually be hangry?

Before we can answer this, we have to understand what food does for us.

It is well known that food is important for the human body and brain to operate efficiently. With a lack a food, we tend to feel the consequences of it. We get stomach aches, headaches, difficulties concentration, and lower energy. Although these are annoying, they are important for informing us that we need food and we need it now. When we are in this state of hunger, many people can get irritated or frustrated quickly.

Why does this state of hunger cause such negative emotions? Well most of it is contributed to the glucose in our body. Glucose is what makes the brain work and helps regulate self-control. In a study done by Dewall and associates (2011), they found that when glucose levels are increased, the likelihood of becoming aggressive decreased. So when we have a lack of food in our bodies, our glucose levels go down, resulting in difficulties controlling emotions and behaviors. This leads us to show our irritation and frustration more easily.

Knowing all this, we can clearly say that yes, someone can be hangry. Even though it is not a true emotion, the term hangry is a perfect way to explain a person’s current state of being hungry and angry at the same time.

So what can you do when you know are in a severe state of being hangry? Well, the cure is quite simple, you just need to eat. By eating, the symptoms of being hangry will go away, and should leave you in a more pleasant state of emotion.

By Annie Jones
Annie is a junior, 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.


DeWall, C. N., Deckman, T., Gailliot, M. T., & Bushman, B. J. (2011). Sweetened blood cools hot tempers: Physiological self-control and aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 37(1), 73-80. doi:10.1002/ab.20366

Does Early Alcohol Use Lead to Higher Levels of Anger Later in Adolescence?

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8552231637_824c2c5821_bIn today’s world, underage drinking and violence are significant topics of interest, and there have been multiple studies that have found a link between heavy drinking, anger, and immediate violent behavior following the consumption of alcohol.  In order to evaluate just how much of an impact consuming alcohol during early adolescence has on later adolescence anger, Dr. Michelle Weiner and her colleagues conducted a study to investigate this relationship (Weiner, Pentz, Turner, & Dwyer, 2001).

The data for this study was collected longitudinally from Indianapolis, Indiana for a total of six years as part of a large drug abuse prevention trial (Weiner et. al, 2001). With 1201 participants in all, each participant was asked a series of four anger-related questions, including: “When I have a problem, I get mad at people”, “When I have a problem, I do bad things or cause trouble”, “When I have a problem, I say or do nasty things”, and “I am a hotheaded person”. Additionally, two items within the study asked each participant to report how many alcoholic drinks they had consumed, and how many times they had been drunk in the last 30 days (Weiner et. al, 2001).

Results of this study indicate overall that early adolescence alcohol consumption ultimately increases anger in later adolescence, controlling for gender, age, and socioeconomic status (Weiner et. al, 2001). Alcohol use in the past 30 days among 6th and 7th graders increased the odds of them saying or doing nasty things, being a self-reported hothead, and having a high anger score on the anger scale in grades 10 and 11. As the students grew older, their reports of anger and aggressive behavior only increased. For example, the students that had reported either consumption of alcohol or drunkenness in the past 30 days in grades 6 and 7, were associated with higher anger scores on the anger scale, as well as doing bad things to cause trouble in grades 9 through 12.

By Gracie Kellow
Gracie is a senior at UWGB who plans on graduating in December 2016 as a Psychology major with a mental health emphasis and a minor in Human Development. After graduation, she plans on attending law school.

Midwestern Psychological Association: Student Research

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Two of my honors students (Nermana Turajlic and Chelsea Giles) and three of my research assistants (Gretchen Kleftstad, Alese Nelson, and Annie Jones) presented their work at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference in Chicago on May 5th, 2016.

Here is sample of their work:

Chelsea Giles and Nermana Turajlic: Does Swearing Decrease Anger and Physical Aggression (2016)

Chelsea Giles and Nermana Turajlic: Does Swearing Decrease Anger and Physical Aggression.

IMG_7959Nermana Turajlic and Chelsea Giles: Is There a Discrepancy in the Punishment of Kindergarten Aged Males Based on Race?

IMG_7923Gretchen Kleftstad, Alese Nelson, and Annie Jones: In-the-Moment Anger Experiences