An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: They say you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. But when it comes to tackling a tricky task, researchers have found that getting angry can also be a powerful motivator. The experiments suggest people who are angry perform better on a set of challenging tasks than those who are emotionally neutral. "These findings demonstrate that anger increases effort toward attaining a desired goal, frequently resulting in greater success," said Dr Heather Lench, the first author of the study.
The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (PDF), details how researchers at Texas A&M University conducted experiments involving more than 1,000 people, and analyzed survey data from more than 1,400 people, to explore the possible impact of anger on people in various circumstances. In one experiment, students were shown images previously found to elicit anger, desire, amusement, sadness or no particular emotion at all. Participants were subsequently asked to solve a series of anagrams. The results reveal that for a challenging set of anagrams, those who were angry did better than those in the other possible emotional states -- although no difference was seen for easy anagrams.
The researchers say one explanation could be down to a link between anger and greater persistence, with the team finding those who were angry spent more time on the difficult set of anagrams. In another experiment, participants who were angry did better at dodging flags in a skiing video game than those who were neutral or sad, and were on a par with those who felt amusement or desire. "This pattern could indicate that general physical arousal had a benefit for game scores, as this would be greater in anger, amused, and desire conditions compared to the sad and neutral conditions," the researchers write. However, no such differences in performance was found when it came to an easier video game.