Anger

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Anger is an emotion. The physical effects of anger include increased heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline.[1] Some view anger as part of the fight or flight brain response to the perceived threat of harm.[2] Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively, and physiologically when a person makes the conscious choice to take action to immediately stop the threatening behavior of an outside force.[3] The English term originally comes from the term angr of Old Norse language.[4]

Anger can lead to many things physically and mentally.The external expression of anger can be found in facial expressions, body language, physiological responses, and at times in public acts of aggression.[5] Humans and non-human animals for example make loud sounds, attempt to look physically larger, bare their teeth, and stare.[6] Anger is a behavioral pattern designed to warn aggressors to stop their threatening behavior. Rarely does a physical altercation occur without the prior expression of anger by at least one of the participants.[6] While most of those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of "what has happened to them," psychologists point out that an angry person can be very well mistaken because anger causes a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability.[7]

For lessons on the topic of Anger, follow this link.

Modern psychologists view anger as a primary, natural, and mature emotion experienced by all humans at times, and as something that has functional value for survival. Anger can mobilize psychological resources for corrective action. Uncontrolled anger can, however, negatively affect personal or social well-being.[7][8] While many philosophers and writers have warned against the spontaneous and uncontrolled fits of anger, there has been disagreement over the intrinsic value of anger.[9] Dealing with anger has been addressed in the writings of earliest philosophers up to modern times. Modern psychologists, in contrast to the earlier writers, have also pointed out the possible harmful effects of suppression of anger.[9] Displays of anger can be used as a manipulation strategy for social influence.[10][11]

Psychology

Anger is viewed as a form of reaction and response that has evolved to enable people to deal with threats.[5] Three types of anger are recognized by psychologists: The first form of anger, named "hasty and sudden anger" by Joseph Butler, an 18th century English bishop, is connected to the impulse for self-preservation. It is shared between humans and non-human animals and occurs when tormented or trapped. The second type of anger is named "settled and deliberate" anger and is a reaction to perceived deliberate harm or unfair treatment by others. These two forms of anger are episodic. The third type of anger is however dispositional and is related more to character traits than to instincts or cognitions. Irritability, sullenness and churlishness postures are examples of the last form of anger.[12]

Anger can potentially mobilize psychological resources and boost determination toward correction of wrong behaviors, promotion of justice, communication of negative sentiment and redress of grievances. It can also facilitate patience. On the other hand, anger can be destructive when it does not find its appropriate outlet in expression. Anger, in its strong form, impairs one's ability to process information and to exert cognitive control over his behavior. An angry person may lose his/her objectivity, empathy, prudence or thoughtfulness and may cause harm to others.[7] There is a sharp distinction between anger and aggression (verbal or physical, direct or indirect) even though they mutually influence each other. While anger can activate aggression or increase its probability or intensity, it is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for aggression.[7]

Causes

Usually, those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of "what has happened to them" and in most cases the described provocations occur immediately before the anger experience. Such explanations confirm the illusion that anger has a discrete external cause. The angry person usually finds the cause of his anger in an intentional, personal, and controllable aspect of another person's behavior. This explanation is however based on the intuitions of the angry person who experiences a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability as a result of their emotion. Anger can be of multicausal origin, some of which may be remote events, but people rarely find more than one cause for their anger.[7] According to Novaco, "Anger experiences are embedded or nested within an environmental-temporal context. Disturbances that may not have involved anger at the outset leave residues that are not readily recognized but that operate as a lingering backdrop for focal provocations (of anger)."[7]

Philosophical perspectives

Antiquity

Ancient Greek philosophers, describing and commenting on the uncontrolled anger, particularly toward slaves, in their society generally showed a hostile attitude towards anger. Galen and Seneca regarded anger as a kind of madness. They all rejected the spontaneous, uncontrolled fits of anger and agreed on both the possibility and value of controlling anger. There were however disagreements regarding the value of anger. For Seneca, anger was "worthless even for war." Seneca believed that the disciplined Roman army was regularly able to beat the Germans, who were known for their fury. He argued that "...in sporting contests, it is a mistake to become angry".[9]

Aristotle on the other hand, ascribed some value to anger that has arisen from perceived injustice because it is useful for preventing injustice.[9][17] Furthermore, the opposite of anger is a kind of insensibility, Aristotle stated.[9] The difference in people's temperaments was generally viewed as a result the different mix of qualities or humors people contained. Seneca held that "red-haired and red-faced people are hot-tempered because of excessive hot and dry humors."[9] Ancient philosophers rarely refer to women’s anger at all, according to Simon Kemp and K. T. Strongman perhaps because their works were not intended for women. Some of them that discuss it, such as Seneca, who considered women to be more prone to anger than men.[9]

Medieval era

During the period of the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages, philosophers elaborated on the existing conception of anger, many of whom did not make major contributions to the concept. For example, many medieval philosophers such as Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas agreed with ancient philosophers that animals cannot become angry.[9] On the other hand, al-Ghazali (also known as "Algazel" in Europe), who often disagreed with Aristotle and Ibn Sina (Avicenna) on many issues, argued that animals do possess anger as one of the three "powers" in their Qalb ("heart"), the other two being appetite and impulse. He also argued that animal will is "conditioned by anger and appetite" in contrast to human will which is "conditioned by the intellect."[18] A common medieval belief was that those prone to anger had an excess of yellow bile or choler (hence the word "choleric").[9] This belief was related to Seneca's belief that "red-haired and red-faced people are hot-tempered because of excessive hot and dry humors."

Modern times

The modern understanding of anger may not be greatly advanced over that of Aristotle.[9] Immanuel Kant rejects vengeance as vicious because it goes beyond defense of one's dignity and at the same time rejects insensitivity to injustice as a sign of lacking "manhood." Regarding the latter, David Hume argues that because "anger and hatred are passions inherent in our very frame and constitution, the lack of them is sometimes evidence of weakness and imbecility."[12] Two main differences between the modern understanding and ancient understanding of anger can be detected, Kemp and Strongman state: one is that early philosophers were not concerned with possible harmful effects of the suppression of anger; the other is that, recently, studies of anger take the issue of gender differences into account. The latter does not seem to have been of much concern to earlier philosophers.[9]

The American psychologist Albert Ellis has suggested that anger, rage, and fury partly have roots in the philosophical meanings and assumptions through which human beings interpret transgression[19]. According to Ellis, these emotions are often associated and related to the leaning humans have toward depreciating and damning other peoples' humanity when their personal rules and domain are transgressed.

Coping strategies

According to Leland R. Beaumont, each instance of anger demands making a choice.[33] A person can respond with hostile action, including overt violence, or they can respond with hostile inaction, such as withdrawing or stonewalling. Other options include initiating a dominance contest; harboring resentment; or working to better understand and constructively resolve the issue

Ancient philosophers

Seneca addresses the question of mastering anger in three parts: 1. how to avoid becoming angry in the first place 2. how to cease being angry and 3. how to deal with anger in others.[9] Seneca suggests, in order to avoid becoming angry in the first place, that the many faults of anger should be repeatedly remembered. One should avoid being too busy or deal with anger-provoking people. Unnecessary hunger or thirst should be avoided and soothing music be listened to.[9] To cease being angry, Seneca suggests "one to check speech and impulses and be aware of particular sources of personal irritation. In dealing with other people, one should not be too inquisitive: It is not always soothing to hear and see everything. When someone appears to slight you, you should be at first reluctant to believe this, and should wait to hear the full story. You should also put yourself in the place of the other person, trying to understand his motives and any extenuating factors, such as age or illness."[9] Seneca further advises daily self-inquisition about one's bad habit.[9]. To deal with anger in others, Seneca suggests that the best reaction is to simply keep calm. A certain kind of deception, Seneca says, is necessary in dealing with angry people.[9]

Galen repeats Seneca's points but adds a new one: finding a guide and teacher can help the person in controlling their passions. Galen also gives some hints for finding a good teacher.[9] Both Seneca and Galen (and later philosophers) agree that the process of controlling anger should start in childhood on grounds of malleability. Seneca warns that this education should not blunt the spirit of the children nor should they be humiliated or treated severely. At the same time, they should not be pampered. Children, Seneca says, should learn not to beat their playmates and not to become angry with them. Seneca also advises that children's requests should not be granted when they are angry.[9]

Middle ages

Maimonides considered being given to uncontrollable passions as a kind of illness. Like Galen, Maimonides suggested seeking out a philosopher for curing this illness just as one seeks out a physician for curing bodily illnesses. Roger Bacon elaborates Seneca's advices. Many medieval writers discuss at length the evils of anger and the virtues of temperance. John Mirk asks men to "consider how angels flee before them and fiends run toward him to burn him with hellfire."[9] In The Canon of Medicine, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) modified the theory of temperaments and argued that anger heralded the transition of melancholia to mania, and explained that humidity inside the head can contribute to such mood disorders.[34]

On the other hand, Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi classified anger (along with aggression) as a type of neurosis,[35] while al-Ghazali (Algazel) argued that anger takes form in rage, indignation and revenge, and that "the powers of the soul become balanced if it keeps anger under control."[36]

Modern times

According to R. Novaco, anger is an emotional response to provocation. R. Novaco recognized three modalities of anger: cognitive (appraisals), somatic-affective (tension and agitations) and behavioral (withdrawal and antagonism). There are a multitude of steps that were researched in attempting to deal with this emotion. In order to manage anger the problems involved in the anger should be discussed Novaco suggests. The situations leading to anger should be explored by the person. The person is then tried to be imagery-based relieved of his or her recent angry experiences.[9][37]

Modern therapies for anger involve restructuring thoughts and beliefs in order to bring about a causal reduction in anger. These therapies often comes within the schools of CBT (or Cognitive Behavioural Therapies) like modern systems such as REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy). Research shows that people who suffer from excessive anger often harbor and act on dysfunctional attributions, assumptions and evaluations in specific situations. It has been shown that with therapy by a trained professional, individuals can bring their anger to more manageable levels.[38] The therapy is followed by the so-called "stress inoculation" in which the clients are taught "relaxation skills to control their arousal and various cognitive controls to exercise on their attention, thoughts, images, and feelings. They are taught to see the provocation and the anger itself as occurring in a series of stages, each of which can be dealt with."[9]

Suppression

While the early philosophers were not concerned with possible harmful effects of the suppression of anger, modern psychologists point out that suppression of anger may have harmful effects. The suppressed anger may find another outlet, such as a physical symptom, or become more extreme.[9][39] John W. Fiero cites Los Angeles riots of 1992 as an example of sudden, explosive release of suppressed anger. The anger was then displaced as violence against those who had nothing to do with the matter. Another example of widespread deflection of anger from its actual cause toward a scapegoat, Fiero says, was the blaming of Jews for the economic ills of Germany by the Nazis.[8]

As a strategy

As with any emotion, the display of anger can be feigned or exaggerated. Studies by Hochschild and Sutton have shown that the show of anger is likely to be an effective manipulation strategy in order to change and design attitudes. Anger is a distinct strategy of social influence and its use (i.e. belligerent behaviors) as a goal achievement mechanism proves to be a successful strategy.[10][11]

Tiedens, known for her studies of anger, claimed that expression of feelings would cause a powerful influence not only on the perception of the expresser but also on his power position in the society. She studied the correlation between anger expression and social influence perception. Previous researchers, such as Keating, 1985 have found that people with angry face expression were perceived as powerful and as in a high social position.[40] Similarly, Tiedens et al. have revealed that people who compared scenarios involving an angry and a sad, attributed a higher social status to the angry character.[41] Tiedens examined in her study whether anger expression promotes status attribution. In other words, whether anger contributes to perceptions or legitimization of others’ behaviors. Her findings clearly indicated that participants who were exposed to either an angry or a sad person were inclined to express support for the angry person rather than for a sad one. In addition, it was found that a reason for that decision originates from the fact that the person expressing anger was perceived as an ability owner, and was attributed a certain social status accordingly.[40]

Showing anger during a negotiation may increase the ability of the anger expresser to succeed in negotiation. A study by Tiedens et al. indicated that the anger expressers were perceived as stubborn, dominant and powerful. In addition, it was found that people were inclined to easily give up to those who were perceived by them as a powerful and stubborn, rather than soft and submissive.[41] Based on these findings Sinaceur and Tiedens have found that people conceded more to the angry side rather than for the non-angry one.[42]

A question raised by Van Kleef et al. based on these findings was whether expression of emotion influences others, since it is known that people use emotional information to conclude about others’ limits and match their demands in negotiation accordingly. Van Kleef et al. wanted to explore whether people give up more easily to an angry opponent or to a happy opponent. Findings revealed that participants tended to be more flexible toward an angry opponent compared with a happy opponent. These results strengthen the argument that participants analyze the opponent’s emotion in order to conclude about their limits and carry out their decisions accordingly.[43]

The Dual Thresholds Model

Anger expression might have negative outcomes for individuals and organizations as well, such as decrease of productivity [44] and increase of job stress [45], however it could also have positive outcomes, such as increased work motivation, improved relationships, increased mutual understanding and etc. (for ex. Tiedens, 2000 [46]). A Dual Thresholds Model of Anger in Organizations by Geddes and Callister, (2007) provides an explanation on the valence of anger expression outcomes. The model suggests that organizational norms establish emotion thresholds that may be crossed when employees feel anger. The first "expression threshold" is crossed when an organizational member conveys felt anger to individuals at work who are associated with or able to address the anger-provoking situation. The second "impropriety threshold" is crossed if or when organizational members go too far while expressing anger such that observers and other company personnel find their actions socially and/or culturally inappropriate. The higher probability of negative outcomes from workplace anger likely will occur in either of two situations. The first is when organizational members suppress rather than express their anger—that is, they fail to cross the "expression threshold". In this instance personnel who might be able to address or resolve the anger-provoking condition or event remain unaware of the problem, allowing it to continue, along with the affected individual’s anger. The second is when organizational members cross both thresholds—“double cross”— displaying anger that is perceived as deviant. In such cases the angry person is seen as the problem—increasing chances of organizational sanctions against him or her while diverting attention away from the initial anger-provoking incident. In contrast, a higher probability of positive outcomes from workplace anger expression likely will occur when one’s expressed anger stays in the space between the expression and impropriety thresholds. Here, one expresses anger in a way fellow organizational members find acceptable, prompting exchanges and discussions that may help resolve concerns to the satisfaction of all parties involved. This space between the thresholds varies among different organizations and also can be changed in organization itself: when the change is directed to support anger displays - the space between the thresholds will be expanded and when the change is directed to suppressing such displays – the space will be reduced. [47]

Quote

Anger is a material manifestation which represents, in a general way, the measure of the failure of the spiritual nature to gain control of the combined intellectual and physical natures. Anger indicates your lack of tolerant brotherly love plus your lack of self-respect and self-control. Anger depletes the health, debases the mind, and handicaps the spirit teacher of man's soul.... "Let your hearts be so dominated by love that your spirit guide will have little trouble in delivering you from the tendency to give vent to those outbursts of animal anger which are inconsistent with the status of divine sonship." —Jesus

Further reading

References

  1. "Anger definition". Medicine.net. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  2. Harris, W., Schoenfeld, C. D., Gwynne, P. W., Weissler, A. M.,Circulatory and humoral responses to fear and anger, The Physiologist, 1964, 7, 155.
  3. Raymond DiGiuseppe, Raymond Chip Tafrate, Understanding Anger Disorders, Oxford University Press, 2006, pp.133-159.
  4. Anger,The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000, Houghton Mifflin Company.
  5. c Michael Kent, Anger, The Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science & Medicine, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0192628453
  6. Primate Ethology, 1967, Desmond Morris (Ed.). Weidenfeld & Nicolson Publishers: London, p.55
  7. Raymond W. Novaco, Anger, Encyclopedia of Psychology, Oxford University Press, 2000
  8. John W. Fiero, Anger, Ethics, Revised Edition, Vol 1
  9. Simon Kemp, K.T. Strongman, Anger theory and management: A historical analysis, The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 108, No. 3. (Autumn, 1995), pp. 397-417
  10. Sutton, R. I. Maintaining norms about expressed emotions: The case of bill collectors, Administrative Science Quarterly, 1991, 36:245-268
  11. Hochschild, AR, The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling, University of California Press, 1983
  12. Paul M. Hughes, Anger, Encyclopedia of Ethics, Vol I, Second Edition, Rutledge Press
  13. Paul Ekman, Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication, Holt Paperbacks, ISBN 080507516X, 2004, p.63
  14. "emotion." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, p.11
  15. Xiaoling Wang, Ranak Trivedi, Frank Treiber, and Harold Snieder, Genetic and Environmental Influences on Anger Expression, John Henryism, and Stressful Life Events: The Georgia Cardiovascular Twin Study, Psychosomatic Medicine 67:16–23 (2005)
  16. Barry Starr, The Tech Museum of Innovation
  17. According to Aristotle: "The person who is angry at the right things and toward the right people, and also in the right way, at the right time and for the right length of time is morally praiseworthy." cf. Paul M. Hughes, Anger, Encyclopedia of Ethics, Vol I, Second Edition, Rutledge Press
  18. Haque, Amber (2004), "Psychology from Islamic Perspective: Contributions of Early Muslim Scholars and Challenges to Contemporary Muslim Psychologists", Journal of Religion and Health 43 (4): 357–377 [367], doi:10.1007/s10943-004-4302-z
  19. Ellis, Albert (2001). Overcoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and Behaviors: New Directions for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Promotheus Books.
  20. "Anger" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
  21. The Urban Dharma Newsletter, March 9, 2004
  22. How to Solve our Human Problems, Tharpa Publications (2005, US ed., 2007) ISBN 978-09789067-1-9
  23. Anger, (HinduDharma: Dharmas Common To All), Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham
  24. Anger Management: How to Tame our Deadliest Emotion, by Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami
  25. Examples include: Moses's anger: Quran 7:150, 154; 20:86; Jonah's anger: Quran 21:87-8; and Believer's anger: Qur'an 9:15
  26. Bashir, Shahzad. Anger, Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, Brill, 2007.
  27. see for example Quran 3:134; 42:37; Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 8, bk. 73, no. 135.
  28. Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Non-Violence, Peacebuilding, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights in Islam:A Framework for Nonviolence and Peacebuilding in Islam, Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 15, No. 1/2. (2000 - 2001), pp. 217-265.
  29. Kaufmann Kohler, Anger, Jewish Encyclopedia
  30. Shailer Mathews, Gerald Birney Smith, A Dictionary of Religion and Ethics, Kessinger Publishing, p.17
  31. Gardet, L. Allāh., Encyclopaedia of Islam, Brill, 2007.
  32. Raven, Wim, Reward and Punishment, Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, Brill, 2007
  33. Leland R. Beaumont, Emotional Competency, Anger, An Urgent Plea for Justice and Action, Entry describing paths of anger
  34. Haque, Amber (2004), "Psychology from Islamic Perspective: Contributions of Early Muslim Scholars and Challenges to Contemporary Muslim Psychologists", Journal of Religion and Health 43 (4): 357–377 [366], doi:10.1007/s10943-004-4302-z
  35. Haque, Amber (2004), "Psychology from Islamic Perspective: Contributions of Early Muslim Scholars and Challenges to Contemporary Muslim Psychologists", Journal of Religion and Health 43 (4): 357–377 [362], doi:10.1007/s10943-004-4302-z
  36. Haque, Amber (2004), "Psychology from Islamic Perspective: Contributions of Early Muslim Scholars and Challenges to Contemporary Muslim Psychologists", Journal of Religion and Health 43 (4): 357–377 [366–8], doi:10.1007/s10943-004-4302-z
  37. Novaco, R. (1975). Anger control: The development and evaluation of an experimental treatment. Lexington, MA: Heath.
  38. Beck, Richard; Richard Beck and Ephrem Fernandez (1998). "Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in the Treatment of Anger: A Meta-Analysis" (pdf). Cognitive Therapy and Research 22 (1): 63–74. doi:10.1023/A:1018763902991. Retrieved 2007-02-05.
  39. "Anger." Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology, 2nd ed. Gale Group, 2001.
  40. Tiedens LZ, Anger and advancement versus sadness and subjugation: the effect of negative emotion expressions on social status conferral, Link: [1], Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 2001 Jan; 80(1):86-94.
  41. Tiedens, Ellsworth & Mesquita, Sentimental Stereotypes: Emotional Expectations for High-and Low-Status Group Members, 2000
  42. M Sinaceur, LZ Tiedens, Get mad and get more than even: When and why anger expression is effective in negotiations, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2006
  43. Van Kleef, De Dreu and Manstead, The Interpersonal Effects of Anger and Happiness in Negotiations, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2004, Vol. 86, No. 1, 57–76
  44. Jehn, K. A. 1995. A multimethod examination of the benefits and detriments of intragroup conflict. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40: 256–282.
  45. Glomb, T. M. 2002. Workplace anger and aggression: Informing conceptual models with data from specific encounters. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 7: 20–36.
  46. Tiedens, L. Z. 2000. Powerful emotions: The vicious cycle of social status positions and emotions. In N. M. Ashkanasy, C. E. J. Ha¨ rtel, & W. J. Zerbe (Eds.), Emotions in the workplace: Research, theory and practice: 71–81. Westport, CT: Quorum.
  47. Geddes, D. & Callister, R. 2007 Crossing The Line(s): A Dual Threshold Model of Anger in Organizations, Academy of Management Review. 32 (3): 721–746.