For this study, researchers wanted to better understand the role of anger in achieving goals. To do so, they conducted a series of experiments with over 1,000 participants, as well as analyzed separate data from over 1,400 other respondents.
The experiments involved having participants feel different emotions, ranging from amusement, to sadness, to anger, to neutral, by showing them different visuals. Then, the participants would be presented with different challenges, such as word puzzles, video games, etc.
As far as the data analyzed, the researchers looked at surveys from recent U.S. presidential elections on voting and the anger participants felt around the election.
In both instances, anger proved to make a difference in people’s behaviors—and how well they reached their goals. Namely, anger improved people’s ability to reach their goals in the game experiments, and was sometimes even linked with shorter response times. These beneficial effects of anger were more significant when the goals were more challenging.
And in the election survey, the participants who said they would be angry if their candidate didn’t win were more likely to vote. “These findings demonstrate that anger increases effort toward attaining a desired goal, frequently resulting in greater success,” explains lead author Heather Lench, Ph.D. in a news release.