- The study showed that images make people feel amused, sad, longing or angry
- When people were angry, they managed to solve 39 percent more anagrams
If you want to be a high achiever, getting angry can help.
When people are angry, they tend to put in more effort to achieve their goals, experts believe.
In one study, 233 students were recruited and shown images that were either neutral or intended to evoke amusement, sadness, desire or anger – for example, an insult to their university’s football team.
They were then given a series of tricky anagrams that they had to decode in 20 minutes and find the words in them.
When people were angry, they managed to solve 39 percent more anagrams correctly.
If you want to be a high achiever, getting angry can help. That’s because experts believe that people who are angry tend to put in more effort to achieve their goals (stock).
It seemed like they tried harder as they spent more time on the more difficult anagrams instead of giving up.
However, a second experiment found that people were also more likely to cheat on tests when they were angry.
Professor Heather Lench, who led the study from Texas A&M University, said: “People often believe that a state of happiness is ideal, and the majority of people view the pursuit of happiness as an important life goal.”
“The view that positive emotions are ideal for mental health and well-being is prevalent in lay and psychological accounts of emotions, but previous research suggests that a mix of emotions, including negative emotions such as anger, are among the best results.”
Humans may be evolutionarily programmed to respond to anger with action to overcome an obstacle.
The new study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, combined five separate experiments involving more than 1,000 volunteers.
In another experiment, the goal was to achieve high scores on a skiing video game, with an easy version requiring only jumps, while another more difficult version required avoiding flags on a slalom course.
In the more complicated game, anger produced better results than when players were kept in a neutral emotional state.
When people were angry, they managed to solve 39 percent more anagrams correctly
A second experiment found that people were also more likely to cheat on tests when they were angry (stock)
However, this was not the case with the less demanding game.
However, angry people responded faster when asked to press a button in response to a shape flashing on the screen.
While anger was linked to increased success across the study, in some cases amusement or desire were also linked to better goal achievement.
Professor Lench said: “People often prefer to use positive emotions rather than negative ones as tools and tend to view negative emotions as unwanted and inappropriate.”
“Our research adds to the growing evidence that a mix of positive and negative emotions promotes well-being and that using negative emotions as a tool can be particularly effective in some situations.”
Separately, researchers found that people are more likely to vote in an election if they say they would be angry if their candidate didn’t win.
How can you calm your nerves?
Whether it’s the thought of giving a presentation at an important office meeting or standing frustrated in a queue, stress has become an unwelcome part of everyday life.
A simple breathing technique could help calm nerves in seconds – tricking the body into thinking it’s relaxed.
A YouTube video called “Mind Hack: Combat Anxiety with This Breathing Technique” explains how people can calm themselves down with a few inhales and exhales.
In it, Jane McGonigal, bestselling author of SuperBetter and video game designer, describes how “power breath” can help people achieve a relaxed state similar to sleep.
While the benefits of deep breathing have been widely reported, she argues that the ultimate trick is not so much how you breathe in, but also how you breathe out.
The method has a simple rule: exhale for twice as long as you inhale.
To put it simply: If you breathe in and count to four seconds, you should then breathe out slowly and count to eight seconds.
This triggers a shift in the nervous system from the “sympathetic” mode – which we associate with fight or flight – to the “parasympathetic” or “rest and digest” mode.
If someone is particularly stressed or anxious, she recommends breathing in with two people and breathing out with four.
Then gradually increase this by inhaling for eight seconds and exhaling for 16 seconds after some practice.