Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The brain acts fast to reappraise angry faces

Date:
November 15, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
If you tell yourself that someone who's being mean is just having a bad day -- it's not about you -- you may actually be able to stave off bad feelings, according to a new study.

If you tell yourself that someone who's being mean is just having a bad day -- it's not about you -- you may actually be able to stave off bad feelings, according to a new study which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Having someone angry at you isn't pleasant. A strategy commonly suggested in cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy is to find another way to look at the angry person. For example, you might tell yourself that they've probably just lost their dog or gotten a cancer diagnosis and are taking it out on you. Stanford researchers Jens Blechert, Gal Sheppes, Carolina Di Tella, Hants Williams, and James J. Gross wanted to study the efficiency and the speed of the process of reappraising emotions. "You can see this as a kind of race between the emotional information and the reappraisal information in the brain: emotional processing proceeds from the back to the front of the brain, and the reappraisal is generated in the front of the brain and proceeds toward the back of the brain where it modifies emotional processing," Blechert says.

Blechert and his colleagues came up with two experiments to study this process. Participants were shown several series of faces and tested on their reactions. For example, in one set, they were told to consider that the people they'd seen had had a bad day, but it's nothing to do you with you. "So we trained the participants a little bit, not to take this emotion personally, but directed at someone else," Blechert says.

They found that, once people had adjusted their attitude toward someone, they weren't disturbed by that person's angry face the next time it appeared. On the other hand, when participants were told to just feel the emotions brought on by an angry face, they continued to be upset by that face. In a second study, the researchers recorded electrical brain activity from the scalp and found that reappraising wiped out the signals of the negative emotions people felt when they just looked at the faces.

Psychologists used to think that people had to feel the negative emotion, and then get rid of it; this research suggests that, if people are prepared, it's actually a much faster and deeper process.

"If you're trained with reappraisal, and you know your boss is frequently in a bad mood, you can prepare yourself to go into a meeting," says Blechert, who also works as a therapist. "He can scream and yell and shout but there'll be nothing." But this study only looked at still pictures of angry faces; next, Blechert would like to test how people respond to a video of someone yelling at them.

The article is titled, See What You Think: Reappraisal Modulates Behavioral and Neural Responses to Social Stimuli.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "The brain acts fast to reappraise angry faces." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111115180319.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, November 15). The brain acts fast to reappraise angry faces. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111115180319.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "The brain acts fast to reappraise angry faces." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111115180319.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

Newsy (Apr. 13, 2014) Researchers at the University of Michigan have designed an app to fight jet lag by adjusting your body's light intake. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Treatment Gaps Endangering Cops, Mentally Ill

Treatment Gaps Endangering Cops, Mentally Ill

AP (Apr. 10, 2014) As states slash funding for mental health services, police officers are interacting more than ever with people suffering from schizophrenia and other serious disorders of the mind. The consequences can be deadly. (April 10) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Teen Drinking Rates Linked To Alcohol Mentions In Pop Music

Teen Drinking Rates Linked To Alcohol Mentions In Pop Music

Newsy (Apr. 9, 2014) A University of Pittsburgh study found pop music that mentions alcohol is linked to higher drinking rates among teens. 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