Have you ever felt your blood boil in a fit of rage? People often use vivid expressions to describe anger, such as “seeing red” or “hot under the collar.” These sayings capture the intense physical and emotional sensations that come with anger.
Human behavior can be complex, and anger can trigger various reactions. It can be negative, leading to harmful outbursts, or positive, motivating you to make changes in your life. It’s important to acknowledge and manage this emotion in a healthy way.
By learning some intriguing insights about anger, you can improve your ability to manage and control it. So, here are some fascinating psychological facts about anger that may broaden your understanding.
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19 Psychological Facts About Anger
Without further ado, let’s dive into 19 surprising psychological facts about anger that can help you better understand yourself and others.
1. Anger Is a Natural Emotion
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Anger is an innate emotion that has been ingrained into the human brain through evolution. Our ancestors needed this primitive response to survive in dangerous environments, triggering the “fight or flight” response to threats.
As a natural and innate emotion, you experience anger from childhood, and it serves an important evolutionary purpose. When you feel pain, rejection, or threat, your brain releases stress hormones that activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension, preparing you for action.
2. Not All Instances of Anger Are Negative
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While uncontrolled or excessive anger can have harmful consequences, there are times when anger can be a healthy and productive emotion. It’s all about learning how to manage and channel your anger effectively.
Expressing anger in a constructive and respectful way can lead to positive outcomes. For example, when two people in a relationship can express their anger respectfully and productively, it can lead to better communication and, ultimately, a stronger connection.
3. Anger Can Cause Serious Health Issues
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When you get angry, your body releases the same hormones as when you are feeling stressed: adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones can cause a temporary increase in body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate and affect your breathing pattern, which can all potentially be harmful.
If anger is not managed effectively, it can lead to long-term health problems. The human body is not built to handle prolonged or regular exposure to high levels of adrenaline and cortisol. Some of the possible health problems include aches and pains, high blood pressure, sleep problems, digestion problems, skin disorders, and an impaired immune system.
4. Anger Can Be a Source of Motivation
Have you ever noticed how anger can give you a sudden burst of energy and motivate you? It’s not just your imagination — anger can actually be a strong source of motivation.
As a powerful emotion, anger can push you to overcome challenges and achieve your goals. From an evolutionary perspective, anger helped our ancestors conquer stronger enemies. In modern times, it can still serve as a positive force, motivating you to stand up for yourself and find creative solutions to your problems.
5. Humor Can Reduce Anger
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Humor can be a powerful tool for reducing anger, and there’s plenty of scientific evidence to back it up. Laughing releases a burst of endorphins — the natural ‘happy pill’ that combats the stress hormones linked with feelings of anger. Laughter can also help you shift your perspective, allowing you to see a situation more positively or lightheartedly.
So the next time you’re feeling angry, try watching a funny video, telling a joke, or finding something to laugh about. Not only will it make you feel better in the moment, but it may also help prevent anger from taking hold in the first place.
6. As People Get Older, Anger Tends To Decrease Gradually
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With age comes wisdom, and when it comes to managing anger, this saying holds true. As you get older, anger tends to take a backseat in the emotional rollercoaster of life. Older individuals have often had more life experience, which can lead to a more balanced perspective and a greater ability to manage emotions.
As you age, you may also place less emphasis on achieving goals and accumulating possessions and focus more on relationships, personal growth, and enjoying life. This shift in focus can lead to a greater sense of satisfaction and feelings of happiness, reducing the need for anger as a coping mechanism.
7. Anger Can Be Contagious
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Have you ever been in a room with someone who was really angry and noticed that their negative vibes rubbed off on you? That’s because of a psychological phenomenon called emotional contagion — when someone’s emotions and behaviors begin to influence the feelings and behaviors of those around them.
One reason for this is that humans are social creatures, and we have an innate tendency to mimic the emotions of those around us. So, if someone around you is getting angry and expressing it through their tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language, it’s likely that you’ll start feeling angry too.
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8. Anger Differs From Aggression
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Anger and aggression are two related but distinct concepts. Anger occurs in response to a perceived threat or injustice, ranging from mild irritation to intense rage. Aggression, however, is a behavior that aims to harm or injure someone or something. It is a manifestation of anger, taking various forms like physical violence or verbal abuse.
It’s important to note that not everyone who feels angry will act aggressively, and not everyone who acts aggressively is necessarily feeling angry. Some people may act aggressively out of habit, while others may be dealing with underlying issues such as trauma or stress.
9. Excessive Screen Time Can Inadvertently Make You Angry
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Have you ever noticed that after a long day spent staring at your computer or phone, you feel more easily irritated and frustrated? It’s not just you — excessive screen time can inadvertently make you angry.
Too much screen time can cause physical discomforts like headaches, eye strain, and neck pain, leading to irritability and frustration. Screen time can also be a source of anxiety and stress, especially if you’re constantly bombarded by negative news and social media content.
10. Your Brain Links Anger and Pain
When you experience anger, it activates the same part of your brain responsible for physical pain. This is because both physical and emotional pain shares a common neural pathway in the brain.
So, when you feel angry, it’s not just an abstract feeling — it can actually cause physical sensations of discomfort or even pain in the body. This is why some people describe feeling “hot-headed” or having a “fire in their belly” when they’re angry.
11. Exercise Can Help You Deal With Anger
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Exercise can be a healthy way to deal with feelings of anger and frustration. Instead of lashing out or engaging in destructive behaviors, you can channel that energy into physical activity, such as running, practicing yoga, or martial arts.
When you engage in physical activity, your body produces endorphins, which act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. These endorphins can help reduce your anger’s intensity and provide a sense of calm and relaxation. Plus, being active is physically exhausting, so you will be too tired to get into an argument or confrontation.
12. Certain Supplements Can Help With Constant Angry Feelings
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Have you ever wished you could take a pill to magically make your anger disappear? While there’s no quick fix for managing your emotions, specific vitamins and minerals can help your brain cope with feelings of anger.
One of the most essential vitamins for managing anger is vitamin B6. It plays a significant role in producing serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and emotions. If you have a vitamin B6 deficiency, you are more likely to experience depression or feelings of anxiety, which can contribute to anger and irritability.
13. Anger Impacts Your Memory
When you’re experiencing intense anger or rage, your thinking can be affected, and your memory, creativity, and concentration can weaken. Anger causes your body to release hormones that can directly impact your ability to remember things.
One way anger affects memory is by impairing your ability to encode and retrieve information. When you’re angry, you become hyper-focused on the source of your anger, which can interfere with your ability to remember other things.
14. Anger Issues Can Be Genetic
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Did you know that your anger issues could be genetic? Studies suggest that there might be a hereditary component to anger management problems. A study published in Psychological Medicine found that people with a family history of aggression were likelier to display aggressive behavior.
But having a genetic predisposition to anger doesn’t mean you are doomed to have anger issues. Environmental factors such as unhealthy expressions of anger at home may also contribute to the problem.
15. Your Facial Expressions Can Impact Anger
Research shows that certain facial expressions, like frowning or clenching your jaw, can increase the intensity of your anger. This is because they activate the same neural pathways in the brain that process emotions like anger.
On the other hand, smiling can have a positive impact on anger. Even if it’s a forced smile, it can trigger the release of endorphins and dopamine in the brain, which are chemicals associated with pleasure and happiness. If you’re feeling angry, try to put on a smile and see if it helps shift your mood.
16. Anger Can Cause a Temporary Loss of Intelligence
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Have you ever felt so angry that you couldn’t think straight? When you experience anger, your prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for decision-making and logical thinking, can become impaired. In fact, research has shown that your IQ can drop by up to 15 points when you’re in a fit of rage.
A study from the University of Chicago demonstrated that when people were shown images that made them angry, the activity in their prefrontal cortex decreased. At the same time, the activity in their amygdala — the brain’s emotional center — increased. This means that the ability to think rationally and make good decisions can really take a hit when you’re feeling angry.
17. People Are Generally Angrier During the Summertime
As temperatures rise during summer, it’s not uncommon to see tempers flare. Research has shown that hot weather can increase testosterone levels, a hormone associated with aggression and irritability. And when you’re already feeling hot and sticky, anything that causes additional stress or inconvenience can easily set you off.
For most people, summertime also brings more social pressure and expectations, like family vacations and social events. This can increase your stress levels, making you even more likely to lash out in anger.
18. Anger Can Distort Your Sense of Time
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When you’re angry, time can feel like it’s moving at a snail’s pace — or racing by at lightning speed. That’s because anger can seriously mess with your sense of time.
Your brain becomes hyper-focused on the source of your anger, which makes it tough to judge the passage of time. Studies have found that anger can even affect your ability to recall the duration of past events accurately. So, when you’re angry, don’t be surprised if time seems to warp and bend unexpectedly.
19. There Is a Connection Between Food and Anger
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You might be familiar with the term “hangry” — when you are so hungry that you feel angry. Food and anger are more connected than you might think.
Your brain needs glucose for energy, and when you haven’t eaten in a while, your blood sugar levels drop, leading to changes in your mood and behavior.
Plus, certain foods can cause inflammation in your body, increasing feelings of irritability and anger. Sodas, sugary fruit juices, bread, processed cheese, and salted peanuts are all examples of foods that can make you feel angrier.
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