#AngerFacts from my AlumniLink Talk

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I gave a talk tonight on anger for the UW-System Alumni Link event here in Green Bay.  During the talk, I provided six anger-related facts and promised they could find more information on Twitter or via Facebook.

I also promised I would tweet out a survey where they could learn more about the types of angry thoughts they may have.  Here is that survey.  

Here are the six facts with links to additional information:

  1. Anger is one of the four most basic emotions along with sadness, fear, and joy. Learn more.
  2. Witnessing aggressive expressions of anger at work leads to a decrease in creativity and productivity. Learn more.
  3. A fair workplace, where employees understand decisions and feel they are treated with respect, is associated with less employee anger and greater productivity. Learn more.
  4. Research shows that women who express anger at work lose influence over their peers, whereas men tend to gain credibility when they express anger.  Learn more.
  5. Anger is the most viral emotion online, spreading faster than sadness, fear, or joy. Learn more.
  6. Letting it out (aka catharsis) doesn’t work; it likely makes things worse. Learn more.

Five Things You Should Know About Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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1. It’s Been Around Since the name1980’s: Sexual Assault Awareness Month, otherwise known as SAAM, was established in the 1980’s. SAAM was created after organizers made October the month of awareness of domestic violence. Later, the National Coalition against Sexual Assault questioned activists on the week they would like to bring awareness to sexual assault. Activists chose one week in April. By the 1990’s, several sexual assault awareness events were provided throughout the month of April. Consequently, activists wanted to modify the week of Sexual Assault Awareness into Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In 2001, Sexual Assault Awareness was officially recognized by the United States as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

2. The Goal is to Educate the Public on How to Prevent Sexual Assault: Organizers wanted to create a time of awareness for sexual assault and educate the public on ways to prevent sexual assault from happening. Organizers hoped to encourage individuals to work together to help sexual assault survivors and end rape culture.
teal ribbon
3. It’s Represented By a Teal Ribbon: SAAM is represented by a teal ribbon. The teal ribbon signifies sexual violence prevention.

4. The Intended Audience is… Everyone: Resources and events are intended for the public. This includes parents, educators, coaches, spiritual leaders, and students of all ages. These events and activities are geared towards specific groups such as college students who are part of a Greek Life.

5. You Can Help With the SAAM Action Kit: Every year, activists and the public create posters, clothing, postcards, and coloring pages to inform people about SAAM. Furthermore, organizers designed an action kit that contains several useful resources. The action kit contains several pages of information about SAAM, how to bring awareness to the public, and numerous posters that individuals are able to print off and hang up around their communities. All resources are presented in different languages, including Spanish and English. Social media sites are another great place that SAAM organizers want the public to utilize. On Instagram, people can include #30DaysofSAAM in their posts. Additionally, people can promote SAAM during the month of April using #SAAM in their Twitter and Facebook posts.

Want to learn more? Visit the official SAAM website here: http://www.nsvrc.org/saamposter

Pet Peeves: The Role of Happiness and Mindfulness

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relationship difficulties: young couple having a conflictFeeling frustrated by slow walkers, people who fail to use their turn signal, or people who forget to cover their mouths when they cough? These relatively petty concerns are called pet peeves. Pet peeves like these and others represent particular occasions, actions, or individuals that cause a person to complain, feel frustrated or get angry.

How are relationships affected by pet peeves? What role does mindfulness play in reducing negative feelings? Kowalski and colleagues sought to answer these questions in their study Pet Peeves and Happiness: How Do Happy People Complain? They examined participants’ pet peeves via a survey that included listing biggest personal irritations, assessments of positive and negative emotions, mindfulness, depression, and happiness.

Results from this study suggest that the most reported pet peeves included chewing gum loudly, mumbling, being unclean, not listening, whining, and being late. In addition, pet peeves made people less satisfied with their relationships with others. This was due to people constantly expressing their annoyances to their significant other. As a result, individuals were irritated and felt that their partner was intentionally trying to make them upset. Furthermore, people reported feeling unhappy due to others engaging in their pet peeves. Mindfulness appeared to make a difference in how people felt when they saw others partaking in their pet peeves. Kowalski and colleagues found two ways that people can deal effectively with their pet peeves.  First, people can express their grievances when they think that it will make a difference. Individuals realize that by expressing their grievances to their significant other, it will only make things worse. Second, individuals can engage in mindfulness to better deal with their pet peeves and increase happiness. Happy people tend to avoid engaging in negative thoughts. By thinking of their pet peeves and expressing their annoyances to others, this decreases feelings of happiness and increases negativity.

AlexandraBy Alexandra Graff
Alexandra is a senior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, she plans on working in the education or healthcare field as a psychometrist.

Kowalski, R., Allison, B., Giumetti, G., Turner, J., Whittaker, E., Frazee, L., & Stephens, J. (2014). Pet peeves and happiness: How do happy people complain? The Journal of Social Psychology, 154, 278-282.

Why do Trolls Troll?

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InternTrollfaceet trolls, or those who intentionally bait people online by starting arguments, posting dishonest, or offensive comments, have received a lot of attention in the media as of late. Despite that attention, there’s a lack of understanding on why trolls do what they do. How does one become a troll? Is it because of his or her personality, social motivation, or that he or she is just bored? Drs. Naomi Craker and Evita March explored these very questions with a study of the personality characteristics and social incentives on trolling behaviors in their study The Dark Side of Facebook: The Dark Tetrad, Negative Social Potency, and Trolling Behaviors.

Craker and March assessed participants’ thoughts and actions regarding online trolling via an online survey that included the Global Assessment of Facebook Trolling, Social Rewards Questionnaire, The Dirty Dozen and the Short Sadistic Impulse Scale.

Results from this study suggest that some personality traits do not influence online trolling behaviors, such as narcissism and Machiavellianism. On the other hand, individuals displaying psychopathic and sadistic behaviors were more likely to engage in internet trolling. Psychopathic individuals did not feel compassion towards other internet users and as a result, they were more likely to harass and embarrass others. Sadistic individuals enjoyed inflicting pain and humiliation on victims by posting inappropriate statements, lying, or cursing on the victim’s Facebook page. Online trolls also participated in these behaviors due to social motivations, such as having control and authority over other internet users.


By Alexandra Graff
Alexandra is a senior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, she plans on working in the education or healthcare field as a psychometrist.

Craker, N. & March, E. (2016). The dark side of Facebook: The dark tetrad, negative social potency, and trolling behaviors. Personality and Individual Differences, 102, 79-84.

Precarious Manhood Theory: What Happens When Masculinity is Threatened?

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downloadExtreme beliefs in maintaining traditional gender roles may come down to something called the “Precarious Manhood Theory” (Vandello & Bosson, 2013). That is, when men do not feel masculine, they are more likely to engage in gender stereotypical behaviors, such as aggression, taking risks with money, and avoiding things like housework and childcare. One question that remains, though, is does the precarious manhood theory hold up in cultures where there are few, if any, differences between male and female roles? Kosakowska-Berezecka and colleagues (2016) sought to answer this with a study in Poland where there are fewer differences in male and female gender roles.

Kosakowska-Berezecka and colleagues’ work consisted of three studies, in which participants were told they had either high testosterone levels or low testosterone levels (regardless of their actual testosterone levels), were asked to rate themselves on masculine and feminine traits or to justify whether they believed in traditional gender roles.

Results from this study suggest that male individuals who are informed of having low testosterone felt that they were not “manly” enough, and were more likely to engage in gender stereotypical behaviors, such as getting involved in physical fights. On the other hand, males who were told they had high testosterone levels were more likely to agree with equality between females and males and were more likely to partake in perceived “feminine” responsibilities such as caretaking or doing housework. Last, males who identified with an egalitarian culture were less likely to report masculinity threats and did not feel the need to display certain masculine behaviors in order to prove their “manliness” to others.

AlexandraBy Alexandra Graff
Alexandra is a senior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, she plans on working in the education or healthcare field as a psychometrist.

Kosakowska-Berezecka, N., Besta, T., Adamska, K., Jaśkiewicz, M., Jurek, P., & Vandello, J. (2016). If my masculinity is threatened I won’t support gender equality? The role of agentic self-stereotyping in restoration of manhood and perception of gender relations. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 17, 274-284.

Vandello, J. A., & Bosson, J. K. (2013). Hard won and easily lost: A review and synthesis of theory and research on precarious manhood. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 14(2), 101-113.


Creating Beautiful Art and Raising Money for a Great Cause Through #Inktober

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I’m a contestant in the Dancing with Our Stars fundraiser for the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter of the American Red Cross.  As part of that, I am working to raise as much money as I can and have put together and incredible fundraising team of people from across the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.  In late September, one member of my team, Kimberly Vlies, sent me a Facebook message that read,

I could draw ball point pen portraits of people for #Inktober. Proceeds to the team?

I, of course, had no idea what this meant.  I had no idea what #Inktober was and only sort of knew what she meant by ball point pen portraits.  What I knew was that (a) Kimberly is incredibly talented and (b) Kimberly has lots of great ideas.  So if she thought it would work, I was on board.

I did, however, go look up #Inktober.  And you know what?  It’s pretty great (learn more here: http://inktober.com/). Every October, artists from all over the world take the challenge by doing one ink drawing a day for 31 days.  It has spurred beautiful work, much of which can be seen on Twitter or Facebook, including this incredible series (near and dear to my heart as a psychologist) from Shawn Coss illustrating different forms of mental illness.

Kimberly’s idea was to draw ball point pen portraits by request for $15 each (or more when there were multiple people or it was otherwise more complicated).  She would draw either from photos that people submitted to her or from a live model when people were able to actually sit for the portrait.  She would do one a day, post the pictures to the Facebook page for the fundraiser, and the requester would get to keep the portrait.  Both Kimberly and I suspected that this fundraiser would be successful, but neither of us anticipated just how successful (more on that in a bit).

First, here’s a little bit about Kimberly.  She’s a graphic designer in the Marketing and Communication Office at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.  She has two degrees, Graphic Communications and Spanish, from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, but she has been interested in art since she was in the 4th grade and learned that her artistic skills were several years ahead of her age.  She first learned about #Inktober through a friend, Ivan San Martin, a fellow artist she had met years earlier when she studied in Spain.  He posted his own #Inktober art on Facebook and she was inspired.

I was interested in giving it a try myself, but knew that coming up with a subject for daily practice would be difficult.  Years ago I got the idea to draw portraits as a part of a social media campaign from a guy who would snap photos of people he met at conferences, draw them and post their drawings to social media. People got a huge kick out of being tagged in their drawings and it generated social engagement.

The initial launch of our #Inktober fundraiser was really fun.  There happened to be a Red Cross Blood Drive on campus the day we wanted to kick things off so we launched the campaign with her first drawing from there.

And here she is actually drawing me.

I can tell you as a non-artist who appreciates art, this was really interesting.  She talked me through her process, explained the challenges, and told me how she became interested in art.  For example:

Drawing from life is more challenging because there is an additional step of translating 3-D information to 2-D. If my model moves, I move or I look out one eye or the other, the whole reference point changes and I have to do my best to recalibrate. There is an immediacy to it that forces me to capture the energy of gesture lines, rather than train my tunnel vision on exact details.

And from that, the #Inktober campaign took off.  The 31 slots filled up in no time.  People wanted portraits of their kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and pets.  They requested them as gifts for their partners and parents.  Each day when we posted a portrait on the Facebook page, it got liked, shared, and received a host of positive comments.  Here are just a few of those wonderful portraits (including the ones she did of my kids; check here for the rest):

We had hoped to raise $500, but because so many people donated a little extra when they paid for their portraits, we ended up raising far more than that.  I asked Kimberly if she expected this sort of response:

I did not expect the response to be this overwhelmingly positive. I was better than 50% sure it would work. I figured we could find 31 people who would buy a drawing. I set the price low just in case it would be hard to find takers, and I wanted it to be accessible/affordable for anyone.

What was most surprising to me, though, wasn’t the success of the fundraiser.  It was her response when I asked her what was most challenging about the fundraiser.  I expected her to say the hardest part was finding the time to draw.  Instead, though, she pointed to the self-doubt doubt she feels when she sits down to draw.

Each time I pick up the pen, I am confronted with self-doubt. It doesn’t matter that I have a B.F.A. or that I’ve been drawing my entire life, I’m so afraid that I can’t do it. I have to convince myself that whatever I do will be ok and just proceed with the drawing. As I work on each drawing, I vacillate wildly between thinking I’m doing ok and thinking I’ve ruined the drawing beyond repair. When each drawing is done, I’m surprised with how well it turned out and it feels like somebody else did it.

I didn’t expect someone so talented to talk about self-doubt.  I also know, though, as a psychologist and emotion researcher that people find inspiration and motivation in a variety of ways.  For many, some anxiety is part of the creative process.

The money she raised will go to a great cause, one that is near and dear to her heart.  Kimberly is not only a great artist and wonderful friend, she’s a dedicated blood donor.

The American Red Cross has a special place in my heart because I have blood type O-, which means I’m the universal donor.  This means that in life-or-death situations, when there’s no time to evaluate blood type, they can grab a bag of my blood and know it won’t contain conflicting antigens.  Type O- blood makes up 7% of the population and I’m really proud that I can help save lives. The Red Cross is known for their blood drives, but they also do very important humanitarian work, like responding to disasters world-wide, vaccinating children in 3rd world countries, helping individual families in military deployment or devastated by fire. The Red Cross also offers excellent training and certification programs for first aid, CPR, and AED, babysitting and child care, lifeguarding and CNA work.

You can follow Kimberly Vlies on Twitter at @kvlies or visit her website: http://kimberlyvlies.com

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

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