A positive mental attitude isn’t the answer to everything. There are some cases in which anger might be the best thing to help you achieve your goals, according to a new study.
Researchers focused on the impacts of anger in a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. They found participants performed tasks better in a state of anger than those who felt other emotions.
“People often believe that a state of happiness is ideal, and the
majority of people consider the pursuit of happiness a major life goal,” the study stated. “However, recent research has made clear that a mix of emotions, which includes negative states, results in the best outcomes.”
Six different experiments were conducted with undergraduate students at Texas A&M University as participants. The researchers said anger was chosen as the target emotion for their experiment because it is “frequently discussed as an emotion that should be regulated or controlled and is hedonically aversive.”
The level at which anger could result in greater goal attainment was compared to the states of sadness, amusement, desire and physiological arousal.
In one of the experiments, the goal was to solve a series of puzzles about the different states of emotion. The research found participants in the anger condition solved more than those who were in a neutral state.
Another of the experiments tested the relationship between anger elicited by a challenging task and the responses to that task. The research found anger resulted in decreased reaction times and a greater interest in redoing the task to improve scores.
Other experiments included testing if anger could result in higher scores on a video game or if anger based on the results of a presidential election could result in different voting behavior.
Overall, the study found different emotions are best suited to solving specific problems.
“The results of the present investigation support the assertion that anger results in greater goal attainment in situations that involved challenges,” the researchers stated. “This more nuanced perspective on the potential function of emotion, which accounts for the type of situation in which function is examined, can be applied to the study of other emotions and should result in the development of a more comprehensive account of the functions of emotion.”
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