According to a study, being angry can actually improve performance when faced with difficult tasks.
The saying goes that using kindness is more effective in attracting attention than being harsh. However, when facing a difficult task, studies have shown that becoming angry can also serve as a strong motivator.
The studies propose that individuals who are upset demonstrate higher performance on difficult tasks compared to those who are emotionally indifferent.
According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Heather Lench, these results indicate that feeling angry can motivate individuals to put in more effort to achieve a desired outcome, often leading to greater success.
A team of researchers from Texas A&M University conducted a study, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, that investigated the potential effects of anger on individuals in different situations. The study involved conducting experiments with over 1,000 participants and analyzing survey data from more than 1,400 individuals.
During the experiment, students were presented with images that had previously been proven to evoke emotions such as anger, desire, amusement, sadness, or neutrality. After viewing the images, participants were tasked with solving a set of anagrams.
The findings indicate that when faced with difficult anagrams, individuals who were angry performed better compared to those in other emotional states. However, there was no notable difference for simple anagrams.
The researchers suggest that one possible reason for this could be a connection between anger and determination. The team discovered that individuals who were angry spent more time working on the challenging anagram set.
In a separate study, individuals who were feeling anger performed better at avoiding obstacles in a skiing video game compared to those who were neutral or sad. They also had similar performance levels to those who were experiencing amusement or desire.
The researchers state that the observed pattern suggests that being generally physically aroused may have a positive impact on game scores, particularly in situations that elicit anger, amusement, and desire compared to those that induce sadness or neutrality. However, no significant variations in performance were found in regards to a simpler video game.
A study indicated that experiencing anger led to a higher likelihood of cheating on tasks, except for when participants felt amused. On the other hand, another study revealed that anger was linked to faster reaction times in completing a task.
Furthermore, based on survey results from the 2016 and 2020 US general elections, individuals who expressed higher levels of anger towards a potential victory for a presidential candidate they did not endorse were more inclined to participate in the following election.
According to Lench, individuals typically favor using positive emotions as strategies rather than negative ones and may view negative emotions as unwanted and unhelpful. However, our study contributes to the increasing evidence that a combination of both positive and negative emotions can enhance overall well-being, and utilizing negative emotions as tools can be especially beneficial in certain circumstances.