Anger is a negative emotion. But, like being happy or excited, feeling angry makes people want to seek rewards, according to a new study of emotion and visual attention. The researchers found that people who are angry pay more attention to rewards than to threats—the opposite of people feeling other negative emotions like fear.
Previous research has shown that emotion affects what someone pays attention to. If a fearful or anxious person is given a choice of a rewarding picture, like a sexy couple, or a threatening picture, like a person waving a knife threateningly, they’ll spend more time looking at the threat than at the rewarding picture. People feeling excitement, however, are the other way—they’ll go for the reward.
But nobody knows whether those reactions occur because the emotions are positive or negative, or because of something else, says Brett Q. Ford of Boston College, who wrote the study with Maya Tamir, also of Boston College, and four other authors. For example, she says, “emotions can vary in what they make you want to do. Fear is associated with a motivation to avoid, whereas excitement is associated with a motivation to approach. It can make you want to seek out certain things, like rewards.” The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Can you manipulate a person's behavior by careful sequencing of the emotional states you evoke in them? Seems that way. Though you obviously need the means by which to evoke the sequence of emotional states.
The anger that you evoke doesn't have to be aimed at you. If you know, for example, the political affiliations of someone you can point out something bound to make them angry about their evil political opponents. Then offer them some reward for doing something you want them to do.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2010 August 11 10:47 PM Brain Emotions|