An anonymous reader quotes a Guardian report: They say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. But when it comes to tackling a tricky task, researchers have found that getting angry can also be a powerful motivator. Experiments suggest people are angry perform better in a set of difficult tasks than those who are emotionally neutral. “These results demonstrate that anger increases efforts to achieve a desired goal, which often leads to greater success,” said Dr. Heather Lench, the study’s first author.
The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (PDF), details how researchers at Texas A&M University conducted experiments involving more than 1,000 people, and analyzed survey data from more than 1,400 people, to explore the possible impact of anger on people in various circumstances. In one experiment, students saw images that previously elicited anger, lust, amusement, sadness, or no particular emotion. Participants then had to solve a series of anagrams. The results reveal that for a set of difficult anagrams, those who were angry performed better than those in the other possible emotional states – although no differences were observed for the easy anagrams.
The researchers say one explanation could be due to a link between anger and greater perseverance, with the team finding that those who were angry spent more time on the difficult set of anagrams. In another experiment, angry participants were better at dodging flags in a skiing video game than those who were neutral or sad, and were tied with those who felt amusement or desire. “This trend could indicate that general physical arousal has a beneficial effect on game scores, as it would be greater in the angry, amused, and lustful conditions than in the sad and neutral conditions,” write Researchers. However, no such performance difference was seen when playing a simpler video game.