Anger helps you achieve your goals
According to a new study, anger can help you achieve it.
For the study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers analyzed the role of anger in different scenarios, including a series of challenges and a survey. One experiment focused on having participants complete word puzzles after being shown images designed to elicit specific emotional responses.
In all experiments, the researchers found that anger improved participants' ability to achieve challenging goals, compared to a neutral emotional state. In some cases, anger was associated with higher scores or faster response times, while in another experiment, they found that it increased the rate of cheating to win.
In some experiments, desire was also associated with increased goal attainment, but anger was associated with increased success across the board.
"People often believe that a state of happiness is ideal, and most people consider the pursuit of happiness a major goal in life. The view that positive emotions are ideal for mental health and well-being has been prominent in secular and psychological accounts of emotion, but previous research suggests that a mix of emotions, including negative emotions such as anger, results in the best outcomes." said lead author Heather Lench, a professor at Texas A&M University, in a press release.
The researchers also analyzed polling data collected from the 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections, where people were asked how angry they would be if their candidate did not win. Although there was no effect of who they voted for, those who said they would be angry were more likely to vote in the election.
"These findings show that anger increases effort toward achieving a desired goal, often resulting in greater success," Lench said.
But is anger always helpful? Not exactly.
Nicholette Leanza, a licensed clinical professional counselor with the mental health care company LifeStance Health, who was not involved in the study, told CBS News that the findings did not surprise her.
“Often with my clients, I have noticed that when they are sad, they are more likely to take action to make things better for themselves. Their anger about the situation is the motivator to move forward," she said.
Although anger can help with certain goals, prolonged states or intense periods of it can be unhealthy for your mind and body. This has also been linked to mental health challenges including depression.
Because of the connection between the brain and the body, anger can also affect our physical health.
"Like other emotions, anger is associated with physiological and biological changes. When you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline,” according to American Psychological.