How Anger Affects Your Influence
Whether you know it or not, you influence people every day.
You may not be changing someone’s complete belief system. But throughout the course of a day you can persuade people in smaller ways.
It could be something as simple as convincing someone to join you for a walk, send an email to a prospective client, or maybe just go to the movies instead of staying at home.
There are a number of techniques you can use to persuade. Some are subtle and others are more direct.
Anger is probably what you would call a very direct method of persuasion. It’s definitely not subtle. But it can be effective.
Unless you’re a woman, that is.
Researchers have found that anger, as a method of influencing others, is different for men and women.
Anger By Gender
The research was done by Jessica Salerno – a psychologist from ASU – and Liana Peter-Hagene from the University of Illinois-Chicago. They’ve had the results of their work published in the journal Law and Human Behavior.
An interesting twist in human behavior, the study finds that men can use anger to influence others. When women show anger, on the other hand, they lose influence.
Jessica comments on their results:
“We found that when men expressed their opinion with anger, participants rated them as more credible, which made them less confident in their own opinion.
So when a man expresses his opinion in anger, apparently this can make other people rethink their position. But what about women? Jessica goes on:
“But when women expressed identical arguments and anger, they were perceived as more emotional, which made participants more confident in their own opinion.”
1 Angry Woman
So how did they go about their research?
They took 210 undergrad students and put them in a simulated jury deliberation. With evidence based on evidence from a real case. In the computer simulation, they believed they were deliberating with 5 other people.
I say ‘believed’ because the interactions with the other jurors were scripted. It would begin with four of the jurors agreeing with the test subject, and one dissenter. While most jurors had general neutral names, the dissenter was clearly a male or female name.
So if you’re thinking a 12 Angry Men type of scenario, you wouldn’t be far off. The only difference is now there’s a woman thrown in.
Jessica and Liana also tested influence of different emotions. So opinions from the dissenter were voiced with fear, anger, or a neutral tone. In every scenario, though, the dissenter would use the exact same wording and argument. Regardless of gender.
How did things unfold in the deliberation?
The conclusion, straight from the research paper:
“Participants confidence in their own verdict dropped significantly after male holdouts expressed anger.”
It seemed the opposite was true for the female holdouts. The paper goes on:
“Participants became significantly more confident in their original verdicts after female holdouts expressed anger, even though they were expressing the exact same opinion and emotion as the male holdouts.”
Was there a difference on how males or females reacted to anger by the dissenter?
The gender of the test subjects didn’t matter. So the result was found to be the same across both sexes.
This has a variety of implications for women. And not just jury deliberation type scenarios.
In any type of high stake group decisions, a woman would have to carefully consider her behavior and emotions.
This would hold for team decisions in the workplace, debates, and committees. Also for women with managerial positions, as well as high ranking political positions.
How we perceive emotions from different genders has a very real effect on our own thought processes. It may even say a lot about how our society views gender roles.
It may seem like an unfair reality for women. But it’s something any woman should keep in mind when looking to persuade others in a group setting.