Angry men appear to gain influence in a group, but angry women lose influence, according to a new study.
Researchers from Arizona State University (ASU) published their findings in the journal Law and Human Behavior.
Jessica Salerno is a psychologist and was co-author of the study. The findings suggest that “women might not have the same opportunity for influence when they express anger,” she said.
The study found that when men expressed their opinion with anger, participants rated them as more believable. But when women expressed anger, they were viewed as more emotional and, thus, less convincing.
In other words, a man could benefit from using anger in power and persuasion. A woman, however, could be ignored or hurt by her group if she expressed anger.
The study was based on the responses of 210 students. They were shown testimony and photographs online from a real murder trial. A man had allegedly murdered his wife. The students were asked to decide if the man was guilty or not.
Before making their decision, the students discussed the case online with five jurors. But these were not real jurors: They were computers generating responses and comments back to the students. Some of the fake jurors had male identities. Others had female identities.
Some male jurors were angry about the verdict. When this happened, the students reacted by doubting their own decisions about the case. Confidence in their responses on the verdict “dropped significantly,” said the study.
But, when female jurors seemed angry, the student participants “became significantly more confident in their original verdicts,” the study found.
The study could have wider importance.
“Our results have implications for any woman who is trying to exert influence on a decision in their workplace and everyday lives,” said Salerno. This includes governing bodies, task forces and committees.
She added that in a political debate, a female candidate might have less influence if she shows anger.
An example is the 2016 Democratic presidential race.
“This might explain why Bernie Sanders is able to freely express his passion and conviction, while Hillary Clinton clearly regulates her emotions more carefully,” concluded Salerno.
In the entertainment world, actor Jennifer Lawrence recently wrote that women and men in Hollywood are treated differently when expressing their opinions.
“All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions,” she wrote. “And I give mine in the same exact manner, and you [would] have thought I said something offensive.”
I’m Mary Gotschall.
Matthew Hilburn reported on this story for VOANews.com. Mary Gotschall adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
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Words in This Story
psychologist – n. a scientist who specializes in the study and treatment of the mind and behavior
opportunity – n. an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done
participant – n. a person who is involved in an activity or event
implications – n. a possible future effect or result — usually plural
exert – v. to cause (force, effort, etc.) to have an effect or to be felt
passion – n. a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something
conviction – n. a strong belief or opinion