Study: Talking it out can reduce anger
A new study, published on June 5 in the Public Library of Science’s open access journal PLOS ONE, has revealed that communicating your feelings – such as anger – may affect the body’s physiological response to produce that emotion in the first place. In other words, expressing the fact that you’re feeling angry would then diminish your body’s impulse to feel or act angry in that situation.
The study involved having participants complete a difficult math assignment in the presence of evaluators who were trained to give negative feedback to the test-taking individuals. This was designed to incite feelings of anger in some and shame in others. Upon completion, the participants were either given a questionnaire to assess how angry or embarrassed they were feeling or they were given a set of more neutral questions that did not explicitly address emotional sentiments.
Those who completed the questionnaire with responses about how they were feeling were found to have smaller increases in heart rate than those who answered the neutral questions. Although both parties were angry, it was the individuals who communicated their emotional state who were able to reduce their body’s physiological response that produced those angry feelings.
“What impressed us was that a subtle manipulation had a big impact on people’s physiological response,” said Karim Kassam, one of the study’s authors. “Essentially, we’re asking people how they’re feeling and finding that doing so has a sizeable impact on their cardiovascular response.”
The online anger management classes we offer at Conflict Coaching & Consulting aim to achieve exactly this: Reducing one’s anger by improving their ability to communicate with others.