Be angry, it could be good for you-A A +A
Saturday, October 13, 2012
You know that new Cybercrime law everyone is angry about? Are you angry about it too? Well if you’re not then you should be—in fact you can be mad at anything at all. It might just be good for you to release that rage.
Professor Jennifer Lerner of the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University says it’s okay to scream at things or people once in a while, under the right circumstances, of course. You don’t wake up every morning and scream obscenities at your dog that didn’t do anything.
According to Lerner, anger is a healthier response to fear in situations where anger is justified. Take note of that—in situations where anger is justified. Again, don’t go walking down the street just to attack the first person whose face you think would look good covered in fist. We have a word for that; it’s called “assault.”
Back to the point, the study shows that people who respond to stressful situations with angry facial expressions rather than fearful facial expressions are less likely to suffer such ill effects of stress such as high blood pressure and high stress hormone secretion.
“Analyses of facial expressions revealed that the more fear individuals displayed in response to the stressors, the higher their biological responses to stress. By contrast, the more anger and indignation individuals displayed in response to the same stressors, the lower their responses,” said Lerner.
In short, if you’re stuck with a deadline at work, don’t be afraid of it and start panicking—that’s fear. Think that you want to destroy it and growl and curse at it. That may look slightly psychopathic but according to Lerner it’s the healthier thing to do.
Here’s something else. Lerner observed the initial responses of Americans to the Sept. 11 attacks and observed that those who reacted with anger were more likely to be pro-war than those who reacted with fear.
“Anger can sometimes be adaptive. We’re showing for the first time that when you are in a situation that is maddening and in which anger or indignation are justifiable responses, anger is not bad for you,” Lerner said.
During Lerner’s experiment, 92 participants performed mathematical exercises, including counting backwards by seven from 9,095, and counting backwards by 13 from 6,233. To make the exercises more stressful, participants were informed of each mistake they made, and they were urged to go faster by a harassing experimenter. Participants, who also were asked to complete arithmetic problems from an intelligence test, were told these tasks were indicative of general intelligence and that their responses would be compared to other participants’ scores.
To ensure that the tasks were creating stress, researchers assessed the participants’ emotional states and measured their stress hormone level, pulse, heart rate and blood pressure during periods of relaxation as well as immediately following the exercises. Increases in those biological measures were less pronounced in the participants displaying anger and indignation than in the participants displaying fear.
So if you were given three possible responses to a stressful situation: whimpering in fear, taking your burden like a martyr, or raging and cursing like a maddened gorilla, the third option would be the most health-beneficial.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 14, 2012.