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Ethan Kross
Ethan Kross

Don’t Shut Down Your Anger. Channel It.

The New York Times 11/2/23

There is an upside to feeling angry.

According to research published this week in the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,” anger is more helpful at motivating people to overcome obstacles and meet their goals than a neutral emotional state.

In a series of seven experiments, researchers recruited undergraduate students at Texas A&M University and, in some cases, elicited anger by showing the students images that insulted their school, like people in Aggie shirts wearing diapers and carrying baby bottles.

“It worked well,” said Heather C. Lench, the lead author of the study and a professor in the psychological and brain sciences department at Texas A&M.

The researchers found that anger helped the students solve more puzzles. When they were asked to play a challenging computer game and it was rigged to be nearly impossible to win, this angered the students. But in those moments, they moved faster and their reaction time decreased. The other experiments also showed that anger could be beneficial.


“For a long time, there was this idea that being positive all the time was a life well lived, and that’s what we should strive for,” Dr. Lench said. “But there’s more and more evidence that it’s actually a life that’s balanced by a mix of emotions that seems to be more satisfying and positive long-term.”

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