Anger Management Tip: Think it Through First

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One of the worst things that can happen when someone gets angry is for them to say Thinking_Mansomething they regret.  It happens all the time.  They become overwhelmed with anger and their desire for revenge overtakes everything else.  Boom, they say something cruel or hurtful that can’t be taken back.

It’s a difficult thing to do but people need to find a way to stop, think through how they are feeling and how the other person is feeling, and then decide if and how they want to respond.  Learning to do that can be the difference between letting your anger get the best of you and using your anger in a positive way.

Psychology Today: Five Fascinating Findings About Anger

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Anger is everywhere.  It influences our behavior in ways we can’t possible imagine.  Here are five examples.

1. People Really Do Associate Anger with the Color Red

According to a 2013 study published in Emotion (Young et al., 2013), the expression “seeing red” isn’t just a metaphor.

Read at Psychology Today

Fact-Check: Do Video Games Lead to Violence?

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We’ve likely all heard the arguments about video games and their role in violence. The grand_theft_auto__vice_city_by_homel001-d4al0zlquestion of whether or not video games have a part in aggression is an ongoing and complicated debate.

It’s not a new question either.  It’s been studied by psychologists, not to mention scholars from other disciplines, for decades.  Dr. Albert Bandura, along with countless other researchers, showed us that being exposed to aggressive behavior, even at a young age, results in imitation (Bandura, Ross and Ross, 1961).

A more recent study by Hollingdale and Greitemeyer (2014), compared aggression levels in response to a violent video game (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare) and in response to a neutral video game (LittleBigPlanet 2), both played online and offline. Participants in the online group played against human components, whereas the offline group played against computers, each for 30 minutes. They predicted that playing a more violent video game would increase aggression, and (surprise!) they were right. Not only do violent video games increase aggression, according to Hollingdale and Greitemeyer, but there is also no difference based on whether the game is played online or offline Call of Duty increased levels of aggression regardless of where it was played (online or offline). The authors also noted that there may have been other factors, such as the competitiveness of each game, which may have attributed to the increased aggression levels.

In addition to violence and competitiveness, there are other factors.  For example, games can be frustrating, which may increase aggression.  Plus, from a research perspective, how we define violence is also a complicating factor.  Do we only consider games like first person shooters or Grand Theft Auto to be violent, or are games like Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros included?

To make matters even more complicated, if video games lead to increase violence, then why do violent crimes decrease when new game comes out as noted by Ward (2011)? Ward argues that people playing violent video games are inside playing the game, not out and about causing trouble.  Ward calls this  “voluntary incapacitation” and noted that in areas where gaming is more popular, the violent crime rate goes down, which is the opposite of what people might expect (Ward, 2011). In fact, Ward’s (2011) results showed that there were reductions in arson, car theft, and robbery at the time of a new release for a game. This voluntary incapacitation most affects youth (ages 15-25) and draws them away from criminal or violent activity.

Taking all this into consideration, it would appear that playing violent video games does increase aggression. But, the relationship is much more complicated when you take into account are the other factors that attribute to the aggression. In saying so, I would have loved to write a piece that included definite answers, but the truth is, I don’t know and I’m not sure that we’ll ever know.

By Katie Bright
Katie is majoring in Psychology and Human Development. A senior, she plans on graduating in Spring of 2015 and taking some time off school before returning to earn a Masters degree.

 

Smart Guns, the NRA, and What We Really Can Agree On

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I saw this article yesterday about how an 18-year-old may have created the “world’s Capturesafest gun” and it struck me as particularly strange.  Basically, Kai Kloepfer is developing a gun with “an advanced fingerprint sensor that’s outfitted on the grip of a gun.”  It scans the user’s fingerprint and won’t fire unless there is a match to the owner of the gun.

There are two reasons why this article was odd to me.  First, and I don’t want to take any credit away from Kloepfer who is obviously a very smart and dedicated inventor, but this idea isn’t at all new.  “Smart Guns,” as they are known, have been in development since the late 90s.  This is a new twist as others have used radio technology, magnetic spectrum tags, etc. but the concept is very similar; link the gun to a particular person somehow and only allow it to fire if that person is holding it.

Much more strange, though, was the opening of the article:

To say that gun control is a complex topic in American culture is a massive understatement, but there’s one point we can probably all agree on: Fatal accidents involving firearms are heartbreaking tragedies and any measure we can take to try to reduce or eliminate them is something we as a society need to consider. That said, 18 year-old Kai Kloepfer has a plan that could help end them for good.

Sadly this is not a point we can “probably all agree on.”  The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been fighting smart gun technology since the beginning.  Some doubt the reliability of the technology.  Would it really work in an emergency… and what if it fails?  However, the objection from the NRA appears to be much broader than the reliability issue.  To quote the NRA-Institute for Legislative Action:

NRA does not oppose new technological developments in firearms; however, we are opposed to government mandates that require the use of expensive, unreliable features, such as grips that would read your fingerprints before the gun will fire.  And NRA recognizes that the “smart guns” issue clearly has the potential to mesh with the anti-gunner’s agenda, opening the door to a ban on all guns that do not possess the government-required technology.

In other words, the development of such guns might lead to laws that regulate the sale of guns and they won’t stand for that.  They’re worried about the slippery slope that might lead up to the slippery slope.

In fact, Katie Trumbly of Highbrow Magazine argues that the NRA is actively working to prevent the sale of smart guns because of a particular law in New Jersey (New Jersey Law S1223).  The law has been on the books since 2002 and “would require all handguns sold in New Jersey to be childproofed within three years of the state Attorney General determining that childproof handguns are available for the consumer market.”  In other words, within three years of smart guns becoming available for sale in the U.S., only smart guns could legally be sold in New Jersey.  Trumbly suggests that the NRA is actively working to suppress the development of smart gun technology and sale of smart guns to prevent this law from taking effect.

To get back to my original point, we need to be honest about goals and what we can agree on.  We can’t grant the premise that the NRA actually cares about reducing fatal accidents involving firearms.  We simply have no evidence for that.  And even if they do care, the evidence we have clearly tells us that they don’t care nearly as much about safety as they do suppressing gun regulation.

By Ryan Martin

A Look Inside: Anger From an Athlete’s Viewpoint

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People think of anger as an emotion athletes often feel and even “use” during competition as a way to get pumped up, increase aggressive play, and even outperform others with the “angry edge”. Well, why not ask athletes themselves how they view anger the day of, immediately before, and during competition? Is experiencing anger seen as beneficial? Are sports an “outlet” for releasing anger in an acceptable way? Desired AngerStudents who competed in a varsity level sport in high school and some current college athletes participating in an online survey say that YES anger may be beneficial. Athletes actually desire to experience increased levels of anger as competition nears and hope to feel at their angriest during competition. On the other hand, athletes view anxiety as harmful to performance and strive to experience less of it as competition nears. Could it be that athletes actually strive to enter into a competitive scenario feeling angry?

AngerInterfered

Part of a bigger study looking at emotional intelligence in sports, the findings regarding anger were striking. As mentioned above, athletes want to feel angry, but the opposite seems to be true of anxiety. Athletes were asked to share personal examples in which anger helped and interfered with performance.  Athletes reported anger as a distraction as the biggest reason for it interfering with one’s performance. For example, say an athlete was angered by foul play from the opposing team, a poor call made by the ref, or a careless mistake he/she made a few moments earlier…this was oftentimes seen as interfering with performance. On the other hand, athletes associated increase in adrenaline as a positive component of anger. Athletes Anger Helpedthat felt angry indicated that their adrenaline was pumping, they felt more motivated and excited leading to increased levels of performance. Interestingly, athletes were also asked to participate in a questionnaire looking specifically at emotional intelligence.  Participants who scored higher on emotional intelligence considered themselves to be more successful in their sport when comparing their abilities to others they compete against. This suggests that athletes view emotions, or more importantly their understanding and ability to manage such emotions, as playing a role in sports performance.

What does this research suggest for athletes and their emotional experiences during sports competition? Athletes view anger as a beneficial emotion surrounding sports. This may suggest that athletes should incorporate feelings of anger into their sport routine and competition prep. Findings also suggest that athletes need to learn how to recognize, manage, and understand their emotions in order to reap the benefits of experiencing them surrounding a competition. Future research could look at sport type and see whether athletes involved in sports that are considered more aggressive in nature (e.g., football) view emotions such as anger as more beneficial to performance outcomes. Being able to recognize such emotions could lead athletes to better be able to use such emotional experiences, in turn, leading to increases in ability and performance in a sports context.

HuckeBy Kayla Hucke
Kayla is a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She will graduate with honors in May 2015 and plans to take some time off of school to gain experience before attending graduate school. She will present her honors project, Emotions in Sports Performance, at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference in Chicago in April 2015.

Anger Management Tip: Consider Professional Help

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Like any emotional problem, sometimes learning to deal with unwanted anger requires professional help.  If you feel frustrated or angry often and nothing you’ve tried seems to help or if your anger has caused you problems at work, school, or in your personal life, you might want to meet with a professional therapist.

To help find a professional, the American Psychological Association (www.apa.org) has a Psychologist Locator.  While not the only way to find help, it could be a good place to start.

Anger Experienced by Returning Veterans

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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.

Anger Management Tip: Sleep

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indexI’m not encouraging you to go to bed angry.  You’ve probably heard not to do that and that’s actually pretty good advice.  However, getting regular, healthy sleep is an important part of managing anger.

A lack of sleep diminished activity in the area of the brain- the frontal lobe- associated with impulse control.  Consequently, sleep deprivation makes it harder to control your angry impulses and you’re more likely to do something you regret when you get angry.

Four Questions on Entitlement with Dr. W. Keith Campbell

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Dr. W. Keith Campbell is a Professor and head of the Psychology Department at the kcampbell06University of Georgia.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  He began studying narcissism in graduate school and then began to focus, specifically, on entitlement during his postdoc.  He published his first pager on the topic, Psychological Entitlement: Interpersonal Consequences and Validation of a Self-Report Measure, in a 2004 issue of the Journal of Personality Assessment.

You can learn more about Dr. Campbell here.

1.     What is entitlement and how is it associated with anger?

We have defined “psychological entitlement” as a pervasive sense that one deserves more than others or special treatment. Our approach is a trait approach that comes out of the narcissism tradition. There are other way to look at entitlement, including some who conceptually separate entitlement from deservingness, and others who focus on more socially legitimate forms of entitlement vs. more pathological.

With psychological entitlement as with narcissism anger is usually triggered by some ego threat. So, for example, if a highly entitled person is not treated with what he considers appropriate deference – or his needs are no met rapidly – anger is likely to result.

2.     What would you estimate is the most common misconception about entitlement?

I think the challenge is knowing when a person should feel entitled and should not. There is a balance is life about being treated fairly and reasonably, which most of us want, and being treated better than others, which people with high levels of entitlement want. In general I think high levels of entitlement are a problem, but low levels can possibly be a problem in some circumstances.

3.     If there was one thing you would want people to understand about entitlement, what would it be?

Being entitled can sometimes get you special treatment — demanding a special hotel room or service at a restaurant sometimes works. But, in general, people don’t like entitled people and entitled people are not all that happy.

4.     Do you have advice or other thoughts for people who feel entitled or who live, work, etc. with someone who is entitled?

Sometimes thinking in larger terms helps reduce entitlement: There are 7 billion people sharing this planet right now and each of us is only one. Most of us are not that special and shouldn’t expect the world to treat us as such.

Dealing with entitled individuals is a challenge. Often, people will just exclude them from activities, not want to work with them, etc. If it is a friend, a discussion about selfishness might be useful. And I am a fan of nature as a teacher. Nature doesn’t care who you are — it treats everyone the same way.

Anger Management Tip: Be Aware of the Catharsis Myth

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The “Catharsis Myth” is the idea that venting anger is good for you.  The idea is that by acting aggressively, viewing aggressive content, etc. we release our anger in a way that is healthy and safe.

The problem, of course, is that catharsis doesn’t work. In fact, the research on catharsis shows that it increases anger rather than decreases it.  According to Bushman and colleagues (1999), it increases cardiovascular disease risk and increases the likelihood you will become aggressive toward those around you (including innocent bystanders).

To learn more about the “Catharsis Myth,” see Four Questions on the Catharsis Myth with Dr. Brad Bushman.