As an anger researcher, a teacher of a Psychology of Emotion course, and a parent, I couldn’t have been more excited to go see Inside Out, the latest Pixar movie about emotion, this weekend. The movie takes place mostly in the mind of a young girl, where each emotion is a character that controls her memories, thoughts, and personality. It did not disappoint and, most importantly, it really did a great job of providing a fun, entertaining, and powerful message about the value of emotions.
Most of my work looks at how we can understand and manage our own experiences with anger. However, there’s another side to this, since we all have to talk to, or work with, angry people all the time. Those interactions can be challenging—so here are 5 ways to deal with angry people.
In a previous post, I wrote about why people get angry. There’s a fairly predictable pattern based on your mood, the provocation, and your interpretation of that provocation (which is influenced by your mood). What follows all that is the anger response which can look a lot of different ways (anything from suppression to appropriate assertion to violence).
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.
This morning, before I had my first sip of coffee, I had learned the following: (1) my friends’ daughter was sick, (2) another friend, more distant, was pregnant, and (3) that legislators in my state have been embracing all sorts of policies I find harmful. That’s right, within ten minutes of waking up, Facebook had provided me with opportunities to feel sadness, joy, and anger. Contrast that with ten years ago, pre-Facebook, when I would have spent that time… staring out the window, probably. Honestly, what did I do while waiting for my coffee to brew before I had Facebook?
I’m often asked if there is more anger over politics than there used to be. Truthfully, it’s hard to say since there aren’t really any formal means of assessing such a thing.
My best guess, though, is that there probably is not. My best guess is that the anger is more visible to people now so it seems like there’s more. We can easily capture video examples of anger and aggression at campaign rallies and post those videos on the Internet for all to see.
We have all likely seen it play out in our own lives: We are angry about something, then something funny happens, and suddenly, at least for a moment, we don’t feel angry anymore. It’s as though, somehow, the funny thing that happened gave us some much needed perspective on whatever we were angry about.
This morning, I noticed what I thought was an offensive post from a Facebook friend that I badly wanted to respond to. Fortunately, I didn’t have time to respond right then so I made a mental note to get back to it later and went about my morning. I was still sort of fuming about it, though, and thinking through all of the different things I wanted to write in response. I admit some of them were a bit cruel.
The frequency and consequences of online anger are outpacing the research on online anger. We don’t know much about why people take to the internet to vent, but here are three things we do know.