Anger, an unexpected source of motivation

Anger, an unexpected source of motivation

Anger is often seen as a negative emotion that should be repressed. But this powerful feeling could be useful in motivating us. According to an American study, anger makes it easier to achieve ambitious goals. It would be a source of motivation to brave obstacles and accomplish difficult tasks.

Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, this study was carried out by researchers at Texas A&M University in the United States with more than a thousand people subjected to different experiments. The aim was to assess the role of anger, and other emotions, in certain circumstances.

More perseverance among angry people

For the first experiment, for example, 233 undergraduates were randomly assigned an emotional state: anger, desire, sadness, amusement, and neutral. To arouse these emotions in them, the researchers showed them a series of fifteen images displayed for five seconds each. People affected by anger, for example, saw images of insults against the school football team. Next, participants were asked to make a series of anagrams.

The results revealed that angry people solved 39% more puzzles than students feeling neutral. Generally speaking, students associated with feeling angry completed more anagrams than any other participants. According to the researchers, angry people showed greater perseverance when they had to solve anagrams.

Anger helps you achieve your goals better

In another experiment, participants had to achieve a high score in a skiing video game, including a hard mode and an easy mode. Once again, people related to anger performed the best in the test compared to neutral or sad people. On the other hand, they found themselves shoulder to shoulder with people connected to fun and desire.

Across all experiments, anger improved people’s ability to achieve their goals compared to a neutral condition in a variety of difficult situations. In some cases, this was associated with higher scores or shorter response times. In one experiment, this also increased cheating to achieve a better resultt”, explain the researchers in a press release. However, for some experiments, fun and desire also allowed people to achieve their goal.

Good in his body, good in his head!

Negative emotions can also be useful

People often prefer to use positive emotions as tools rather than negative emotions and tend to view negative emotions as undesirable and maladaptive“says Heather Lench, professor in the department of psychology and brain sciences at Texas A&M University, and lead author of the study. “Our research adds to growing evidence that a mix of positive and negative emotions promotes well-being and that using negative emotions as tools can be particularly effective in certain situations“.