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Surprising Science

The Benefits of Anger

Experiments suggest that people are covetous of the things possessed by angry people. The attraction could be evolutionary: more aggressive hunters capture more food.

When we think of anger, our thoughts naturally turn to unpleasant scenes and negative emotions. We generally consider showing anger to be a sign of weakness, to be avoided unless absolutely necessary. But could there be an upside to anger? A new study in Psychological Science explains that when we associate an object with anger we want the object (more than if we did not associate it with anger)—a motivation usually linked to positive emotions. … So when your toddler screams “I want it!” while grabbing chocolates in the store, take heart—they are just showing increased motivation.

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