Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anger makes people want things more

Date:
November 1, 2010
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Anger is an interesting emotion for psychologists. On the one hand, it's negative, but then it also has some of the features of positive emotions. Researchers have found that associating an object with anger actually makes people want the object -- a kind of motivation that's normally associated with positive emotions.

Women using a computer. People put more effort in action to obtain objects associated with angry faces.
Credit: iStockphoto/Brent Holland

Anger is an interesting emotion for psychologists. On the one hand, it's negative, but then it also has some of the features of positive emotions. For a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers find that associating an object with anger actually makes people want the object -- a kind of motivation that's normally associated with positive emotions.

People usually think of anger as a negative emotion. You're not supposed to get angry. But anger also has some positive features. For example, it activates an area on the left side of the brain that is associated with many positive emotions. And, like positive emotions, it can motivate people to go after something. "People are motivated to do something or obtain a certain object in the world because it's rewarding for them. Usually this means that the object is positive and makes you happy," says Henk Aarts of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, first author of the new study. He and his colleagues wanted to examine whether this also applies to the link between anger as a negative emotion and the desire to get your hands on something.

For the study, each participant watched a computer screen while images of common objects, like a mug or a pen, appeared on the screen. What they didn't realize was that immediately before each object appeared, the screen flashed either a neutral face, an angry face, or a fearful face. This subliminal image tied an emotion to each object. At the end of the experiment, the participants were asked how much they wanted each object. In a second version of the experiment, they had the person squeeze a handgrip to get the desired object -- those who squeezed harder were more likely to win it.

People put more effort in action to obtain objects associated with angry faces. (They did not do this for items associated with fear.) "This makes sense if you think about the evolution of human motivation," says Aarts. For example, say there's limited food in the environment. In such a context those persons that associate food with anger and turn aggression into an attack response to get the food are more likely to survive. "If the food does not make you angry or doesn't produce aggression in your system, you may starve and lose the battle," Aarts says.

Interestingly, the participants in this study had no idea that their desire for the objects had to do with anger, Aarts says. "When you ask people why they work harder to get it, they say, 'It's just because I like it.'" That shows how little we know about our own motivations, he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H. Aarts, K. I. Ruys, H. Veling, R. A. Renes, J. H. B. de Groot, A. M. van Nunen, S. Geertjes. The Art of Anger: Reward Context Turns Avoidance Responses to Anger-Related Objects Into Approach. Psychological Science, 2010; 21 (10): 1406 DOI: 10.1177/0956797610384152

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Anger makes people want things more." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101151730.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2010, November 1). Anger makes people want things more. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101151730.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Anger makes people want things more." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101151730.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins