Anyone who has been to a children's sporting event has noticed that it seems as though there is always at least one parent yelling at the kids, at the coaches, or at the referees. Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever wondered what they are yelling about?
In a 2012 study in The Journal of Applied Sports Psychology, Omli and LaVoi examined the behaviors of angry parents at sporting events. They surveyed over 700 parents via an online questionnaire asking them to recall a time when they were upset or showed anger at one of their children's sporting events. This study was able to detect what exactly was making parents to become angry. Once all data was collected the research team coded all responses into categories.
The research team found that many parents’ responses could be put into three categories. These three categories include unjust conduct, which means that parents showed anger because they found something to be unfair or impartial. For example, “the referee was not being fair or the coach was not being fair because they didn't play my son more.” The second category had to do with a lack of care toward their child. For example, when a coach exhibited behaviors that were cruel or unkind toward a particular child. Finally, the third category had to do with incompetence like when the offender (e.g., referee, coach) was deemed incapable of doing his or her job.
While, this study was not able to examine the exact behavior of the parent who expressed anger, it was able to examine three situations that may provoke parents’ anger. Therefore, moving forward perhaps future research could look at ways to reduce parents’ anger responses and to explore what kids learn when their parents become so upset.
By Rebecca Arrowood
Rebecca is a senior Psychology major and Human Development minor at the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay. She will be attending graduate school to earn a Masters in Counseling Psychology next fall.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a widespread problem. Due to the aggressive nature of these acts, it stands to reason that anger would contribute to IPV. A recent study by Dr. Sara Elkins and colleagues in Psychology of Violence sought to evaluate the link between recent anger and likelihood of IPV. According to Elkins, “[a]nger interventions fell out of favor in partner violence intervention programs in the mid-90’s in response to claims that anger management interventions for domestic violence infer blame on the victim, promote perpetrator denial because they don’t account for abuse related to exerting power and control, and may place female partners at greater risk for revictimization.” Many local and state advocates for victims of domestic violence have removed anger-focused treatments in a reaction to these assumptions – but this decision may have been too hasty.
No act is committed in a vacuum and as such there are multiple factors that contribute to IPV perpetration. IPV is most likely when the individual possesses strong instigation (exposure to behaviors by a partner that typically “provoke” an urge to aggress), strong impellance (trait or situational factors that prepare the urge to aggress when meeting an instigating factor), and weak inhibition (trait or situational factor that will increase the likelihood that the individual will suppress the urge to aggress). Past research has also suggested that younger age, greater relationship dissatisfaction, and shorter length of relationship have been related to increased rates of IPV. To add to this research, Elkins also examined any possible gender differences that existed.
In Elkins’ current study, participants were given a handheld computer on which they completed a daily-electronic diary assessment for two months. It measured relationship satisfaction, daily anger, and occurrence of aggression toward intimate partners (i.e., psychological, physical assault, and sexual coercion). Recent anger was correlated with all forms of IPV. Younger individuals are more likely than older individuals to engage in psychological aggression at moderate levels of anger. Individuals in longer relationship were also more likely to use psychological aggression than physical aggression or sexual coercion. The rates of IPV occurring in the presence of anger were comparative between genders. The study also found that even though recent anger and relationship dissatisfaction increased the likelihood of IPV, the combination of both of these factors does not have a cumulative effect.
Studies such as these have important information for the social policies we create. Anger is related to IPV in some cases and as such, should be part of intervention programs for those who may benefit from anger management strategies. According to recent research, about half of the states with imposed guidelines for intervention programs for domestic violence prohibit anger-focused interventions. The Alabama Counsel against Domestic Violence (2009) states that “men who batter use anger, alcohol/drug use, and stress as excuses for their abusive behaviors.” Statements such as this may close possible avenues to prevent future IPV. Elkins also adds that “[b]ased on anger ratings, electronic momentary technology could be used to provide in-the-moment coping for anger through scheduled behavioral and cognitive strategies.”
By Sarah Bohman
Sarah is a senior with a major in Psychology and a minor in Human Development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. After graduation, she plans on attending graduate school to earn a PhD in Clinical Psychology after graduating.
As children, we are consistently taught to apologize after our wrongdoings, and to accept an apology from someone who has acted wrongly against us. This simple construction of behavior based on the concept of forgiveness, we are taught, will ultimately heal all wounds and mend all hurts. Later, as adults, we learn the common saying, “forgive and forget” as a way of dealing with distress or suffering. Both concepts rely largely on marketing the importance of forgiveness in an effort to overcome hardships and heal ourselves. As it turns out, both assertions may have merit.
According to a 2012 study by Daniel Goldman & Nathaniel Wade, forgiveness is important in reducing anger and increasing one’s overall well-being following a hurtful act or situation. The study they conducted looked at the outcomes of people working through an angering event, comparing whether or not the participants worked specifically on finding forgiveness or merely on anger-reduction strategies (e.g. deep breathing, relaxation methods, etc.) against a control group. The study found that the group working with a forgiveness-related focus ultimately ended up with a greater reduction in (desires for) revenge, levels of hostility, and psychological symptoms as compared to the group focusing on anger-reducing strategies. Additionally, the forgiveness group members showed a lasting effect in increased empathy that was not present in the anger-reduction or control groups.
One of the researchers, Nathaniel Wade, states, “[Forgiveness] Interventions seem to be very effective at helping people not only cope with anger and work through those negative feelings, but also to move the person to a ‘better’ place of acceptance and even human flourishing.” Wade’s study emphasizes the importance of achieving forgiveness after being wronged because it does not only reduce unconstructive or potentially damaging thoughts and behaviors but also works to increase positive behaviors and feelings within oneself. This research serves an important tool to spread the message of forgiveness, in that it may not be entirely beneficial to simply work on reducing anger. In the future, when trying to cope with a hurtful experience of some kind, it may be valuable to keep in mind that you do not always have to forget, but research shows you should definitely work on forgiving.
By Lauren Vieaux
Lauren is a junior Psychology and Human Development major with a minor in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay. She plans on attending graduate school to earn a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.
Since the Sandy Hook shootings on December 14th there has been considerable discussion of gun violence in the United States. As often happens with discussions of policy-making, though, very little of the conversation has been driven by the research on gun-related crime. Gun-enthusiasts, in particular seem to gravitate toward anecdotal evidence of how legal gun ownership is the only way to prevent gun related crime. In fact, just days after the shooting, Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, argued that “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Of course, as has been addressed before, the data on the impact of concealed carry laws has been difficult to interpret and has allowed for differing conclusions. However, the relationship between gun ownership in a community and gun-related crime in that community can be tested empirically. This was what Dr. Anthony Hoskins set out to do in his 2011 article in Criminal Justice Studies where he found, quite simply, that when it comes to murder and aggravated assault, more guns equal more crime.
His paper used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (a telephone survey conducted every year) and was designed to explore the relationships between percentages of homes with a gun in particular counties with the rates of murders, robberies, and aggravated assaults in those counties, while controlling for a host of demographic variables (e.g., total population, unemployment rate). Ultimately, he was evaluating three different theories on gun ownership and crime: (1) that gun ownership rates are unrelated to violent crime, (2) that gun ownership rates are associated with a decrease in violent crime (the view held by LaPierre and other gun enthusiasts), and (3) that gun ownership rates are associated with an increase in violent crime.
In the end, his evaluation found support for the third hypothesis, that the more guns in a community, the higher the violent crime rate. Specifically, what he identified is that the “introduction of a gun into a violent incident raises the risk of injury or death” (p. 127). In other words, yes, you can kill someone with a hammer or a baseball bat, but you cannot kill them from as far away or in rapid succession the way you can with a gun. It should also be noted that these findings run completely contrary to what LaPierre and other gun advocates have been arguing. They would argue that a higher percentage of gun owners in a community would be negatively correlated with all three forms of violent crime. Instead, it was positively correlated with two types of violent crime (murder and aggravated assault) and uncorrelated with the third (burglary).
By Ryan C. Martin
Becoming angry is inevitable. It happens to everyone. However, the decisions that people make when angry often vary. While in a negative angry mood, do people have a tendency to make negative decisions? What factors go into this process? Past research has revealed that positive events are more likely to occur when positive emotions are expressed, while negative events are more likely to occur when negative emotions are expressed. However, a recent study in Emotion by Jolie Baumann and David DeSteno found that prior studies may not tell the full story.
Their study found that angry individuals make riskier decisions than those in a more neutral emotional state when they are in situations where they learn information they do not necessarily need to have or know. However, when circumstances favor the use of learned information, individuals tend to make less risky decisions. When individuals experience anger, they are more likely to take fewer risks, because their already negatively affected state of mind indicates that a negative outcome is more likely to occur.
The primary author of this study, Jolie Baumann, was compelled to complete this study when she found some inconsistencies in past literature on how anger influences risk perception. She states that the study, “demonstrates that the framing or context of a decision can influence whether anger ultimately leads a person to take greater or fewer risks.”
Although anger has a negative connotation with aggressive and impulsive behavior, this study shows that an increase in risk taking is not always associated with an angry mood. Baumann continues on to say that how anger influences decision making is a topic not very well understood. “This study was a first pass at exploring the complicated relationship between anger and risk taking, and it has really raised more questions than it has answered.”
Baumann and colleagues are excited to continue exploring questions on the topic in the future, such as, how anger influences behavior and what features of the decision are most important when determining whether anger will increase or decrease risk taking.