Anger is that powerful internal force that blows out the light of reason. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Anger is appropriately blamed for flawed thinking since it tends to alter perception of risk, increase prejudice, and trigger aggression. But is anger always destructive" Three recent experiments published in the latest issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, an official publication of The Society for Personality and Social Psychology suggest it's not. Anger can actually prompt more careful and rational analysis of another person's reasoning.

The article, written by Wesley G. Moons and Diane M. Mackie of the University of California, Santa Barbara and published in the May 2007 issue, looks at research investigating anger's impact on thinking and decision-making. In the studies, college students were exposed to arguments attempting to persuade them to unpopular viewpoints. Beforehand, some were asked to write about an experience that had angered them. The research found that, surprisingly, anger made participants more, rather than less, rational and analytical in their reactions.

The current research, conclude the authors, suggests that angry people can and do process information analytically but are often influenced by more mental shortcuts. Although it is not always the case, anger-induced action is sometimes the result of quite clear-minded and deliberative processing.


The article, "Thinking straight while seeing red: The influence of anger on information processing," published by SAGE in the May issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, is available at no charge for a limited time at