Anger Experienced by Returning Veterans

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Due to the recent war in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are many veterans returning homeCapture and experiencing anger problems during reintegration into civilian life.  A recent study done by Miranda Worthen and Jennifer Ahern, published in the Journal of Loss and Trauma in 2014, investigated how veterans understood the causes, process, and social impact of their anger issues during reintegration.  In this study, the researchers had an open interview with each veteran in order to further understand the individual and the reasons causing the anger problems.

The researchers found three distinct patterns of anger problems: (1) loss of structure during reintegration (i.e., living in a less predictable and organized environment), (2) moral injury from being exposed to acts that disagree with one’s moral beliefs, and (3) post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is triggered by a traumatic experience (National Center for PTSD, 2012).  While veterans reintegrate into civilian life, PTSD and moral injury caused persistent anger problems.  These anger problems can lead to marital issues, social isolation, and issues holding a job.

There is specialized help available for veterans who suffer from moral injury and PTSD.  These feelings are common and seeking help is highly encouraged.  It is important for each veteran to find what process or method works best for them to reintegrate into civilian life.

For those veterans who are looking for help, here are two useful resources:

By Gretchen Klefstad
Gretchen is a a sophomore majoring in Psychology and minoring in Public Administration. She plans on graduating in May 2017 and continuing on to graduate school.

The Science of Bitchy Resting Face

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Bitchy Resting FaceWe 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.

Seeing Red?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

4800831_ccc91cf769_qWe’ve all heard the expression “seeing red.” As it turns out, though, it’s not just a metaphor. People really do associate the color red with anger and, according to a 2013 article in Emotion, the color red influences whether or not we perceive anger in a particular situation.

The authors conducted two experiments to test the hypothesis that “the psychological meaning implied by the color red biases the processing of anger expressions” (Young et al., 2013, p. 380). In the first experiment, they found that participants were more likely to perceive anger in faces that were viewed on a red background. In the second, they found that the color red did not generalize to other negative emotions like fear. In other words, the emotional impact of the color red was unique to anger.

Photo Courtesy: Lorentey

Do Feelings of Entitlement Lead to Anger at God?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

According to 2013 study in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality anger at God is tied to entitlement. The study, titled I Deserve Better and God Knows It! Psychological Entitlement as a Robust Predictor of Anger at God, was conducted by Dr. Joshua Grubbs and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Georgia.

They argue that people get angry at God in response to negative events like natural disasters, diseases, and deaths of loved ones. While these experiences differ in important ways, they have a common trigger. According to Dr. Grubbs and colleagues, “Perceptions of divine injustice are often associated with anger at God, as are perceptions of being wronged or unfairly victimized by a deity.” Such anger is not unimportant as it is associated with depression, anxiety, and poor physical health.

They predicted that anger at God would be tied to psychological entitlement, which they defined as “the belief that one deserves or is entitled to more than other people.” In fact, that is exactly what they found with anger at God being associated with psychological entitlement. As for why, they write that “entitled individuals carry with them an attitude of deservingness. This predisposes them to greater perceptions of being wronged when they are denied those things they think that they deserve.”

For other research on anger at God, see Anger at God.

By Ryan C. Martin

Why an Anger Researcher Decided to Make a “Happy” Video

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Over the last month, my coworkers, students, and I filmed one of the MANY “Happy” videos inspired by Pharrell Williams’ song and video  (watch it here). Capture

We had a lot of fun and the responses from other coworkers and students have been really positive.  This particular response from a friend stood out, though: “I love the fact that anger specialist Ryan Martin frames the happiness.”

I too noticed the juxtaposition of having the “anger guy,” as I’m often called, featured in a happy video.  The truth is, though, that it isn’t a coincidence.   My interest in anger and my awareness of anger problems really did feed into my desire to make this video.

First, by way of a backstory, here’s how the video came to be.  A few months ago, a student told me that she saw me in the hallway most days but never said hi because I always seemed like I was in a bad mood.   I knew exactly what she was talking about.  I tend to be a little bit type A at work and had been accused of scowling in meetings or on my way to class in the past.  The next morning, I thought it would be funny to post a Vine- a six-second-video of me walking extra-happily to class.  I got a friend to tape me whistling, smiling, and pointing at people as I walked to class.  We tweeted the video out from the department twitter account and people seemed to love it.  For a few days, whenever I walked to class, students would see me, start whistling, laughing, pointing, etc.  A few weeks later, we decided to do the “Happy” video as a follow-up to the “happy” vine we had posted and feature the rest of the psychology department and lots of students.

In other words, the video was borne out of the fact that the “anger guy” also had a reputation, at least amongst some, of being the “angry guy.”   There’s a bigger connection than that, though.  My campus has been host to a fair amount of frustration as of late.  Like many public institutions, low pay, rising tuition, difficulty finding work after graduation, etc. have given my colleagues and students a lot to be angry about.  I consistently find students who wonder if college is worth it or who have to make tough financial decisions that students just ten years ago didn’t regularly have to make.  Those are real problems and work has been a little less fun for many of us because of them.

I can’t fix those problems, though.  So, instead, I wanted to do something fun for all of us; something the brilliant and talented people I work with and teach would remember for a long time.  I wanted to give them a present.

So we made this video.  We got the psychology faculty, our provost, our social media director, and about 60 students involved to make our version of the video that, admittedly, has been made over and over again by colleges and universities across the country.

To make it our own, we loaded it up with references to famous psychologists and psychology research.  If you look closely, you’ll find Little Albert, Milgram, the invisible gorilla, a couple of famous happiness researchers, and a lot more.  In fact there are twelve references to psychology research along with twelve Sigmund Freud action figures hidden throughout.

In the days since it went live, I’ve seen a lot of nice posts about it on Facebook from our current students and alumni.

This made my night.  Cannot believe I get to learn from the amazing psych professors at UWGB.

This makes me love my psychology professors even more than I already do.

This is amazing!!!! My professors at UWGB were the best and obviously are still awesome!!

Why did they wait until after I left to do this?!?!?!?!?!?

Regarding this last one, I have two thoughts on this: First, I wish we had done this earlier.  It would have been a lot of fun.  Second, I’m not going to make that mistake again.  We’ll do more stuff like this.

Finally, I’m not ignorant of the fact that some people think I have too much time on my hands and should just get back to work.  I have two thoughts on this as well.  First, if that were true, I wouldn’t be writing this at 4:00 am.  Second, and much more importantly, my job is to create an inspiring, engaging, and fun environment that my students and colleagues are excited to be part of every day.  Creating this video was an attempt at doing just that.  Every minute I spent on this was work… and like any good project, it was also a lot fun.

By Ryan C. Martin

 

Adolescent Mental Health and Gang Violence

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

It is not uncommon to hear about gang violence in many areas throughout the United States, including rural and urban areas. According to Dr. Sarah Kelly, a Registered Nurse at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, “Almost 30% of cities with more than 2,500 people have reported problems with gangs, and more than 80% of cities with more than 50,000 people have reported these problems.” Dr. Kelly and her colleagues sought to discover the link of exposure to gang violence, its effects on adolescents’ mental health, and their increased interest in illegal activities. According to Kelly, “there is a lack of research on adolescents’ exposure to gang violence and the effects it can have on their mental health.”

Exposure to gang violence or being an active gang member can have multiple effects on one’s mental health. In a recent study published in Issues in Mental Health Nursing, Kelly used multiple methods to collect data from adolescents, their parents, and their community caregivers, to determine the effects of being exposed to gang violence. Interviews were conducted with the adolescents asking about their direct or indirect exposure to gang violence and how it had affected their lives. Following that, adolescents were asked to complete a Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC), which included subscales for anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, sexual concerns, dissociation, and anger. The study found a positive correlation between anger and depression and anger and dissociation for the adolescents. This suggests that anger can manifest itself in a variety of ways such as the victims or witnesses of gang violence expressing their anger as depression or utilizing a safeguard for themselves by becoming dissociated and not remembering the traumatic event.

In addition to the checklist that the adolescents filled out, the parents and caregivers filled out the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), which asked about the behavior and mental health of their adolescent(s) including things such as rule-breaking, aggression, anger, anxiety, depression, dissociation, and posttraumatic stress disorder . They found that the parents and/or caregivers stated that their children were experiencing either a mixture of many of the listed behaviors on the CBCL or just a couple.

Finally, they asked community center employees, teachers, and administrators to complete the Teacher Report Form (TRF), which asked about the same behaviors as the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) . They found a negative correlation between dissociative symptoms on the TRF and externalizing symptoms on the CBCL which is an interesting finding since dissociation is usually correlated with amnesia or hysteria. Dissociation is also a common coping mechanism for victims of traumatic events, which is why it is interesting that it would be correlated with symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

The current study shows that exposure to gang violence can have numerous side effects on adolescents, which creates a growing concern for the youth that live in gang occupied neighborhoods. Many adolescents cannot avoid the dangerous situations in these neighborhoods, which is causing drastic effects on their lives while living in these dangerous cities. Also, many of the youth that live in these cities cannot afford to move, which makes them more prone to gang violence. According to Kelly, “Adolescents deserve to live in a supportive nurturing environment and we need to help them achieve that vision.”

By Timothy Zietz
Tim is a Psychology and Human Biology Major with a minor in Chemistry.  He plans on graduating in 2015 and attending medical school to obtain his MD and PhD and specializing in neurosurgery.