30.08.2018 change 30.08.2018

Angry people think they`re smarter. They`re not, researchers say

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Angry, short-tempered people consider themselves smarter than others. But they are wrong, say scientists from Poland and Australia after a study on a group of 500 people.

The latest findings regarding anger in the context of perception of one`s own intelligence appeared in the journal Intelligence. The authors are Dr. Marcin Zajenkowski from the University of Warsaw and Dr. Gilles E. Gignac from the University of Western Australia in Perth.

"Anger is a negative emotion, but its consequences are completely different than the consequences of such feelings as sadness or depression. Anger is associated with action and movement" - emphasises Dr. Zajenkowski.

On a sample of 500 people, Zajenkowski and Gignac proved that angry people (who tend to lose temper) believe that they are smarter than they actually are. In a survey, volunteers were asked to assess their own level of intelligence and whether they were prone to anger. Then, the researchers objectively assessed their intelligence by conducting tests.

It turned out that in the case of people prone to anger, self-esteem and external evaluation did not match.

"Angry people who said they were wiser than others - actually were not. It was just their unrealistic optimism" - says the psychologist.

In both groups (people more and less prone to anger) the number of more intelligent people was similar. "Anger is not related to the level of intelligence - only its perception. The number of intelligent and unintelligent people was similar in both groups" - the psychologist adds.

Scientists do not give a clear answer as to the source of this mechanism. It could have evolutionary origins - anger is often a reaction to danger. "Anger pushes you to act and intensifies your will to fight and your commitment. Your self-esteem automatically increases, which can motivate you, even at the expense of overestimating your abilities" - describes the expert.

Zajenkowski laughs that social media and discussions held there are a good illustration of this pattern. People who often do not have a clue about a specific field assume the role of experts on various topics. "But they believe that they have the right and adequate knowledge to make discussions. Their vocabulary is evidence of their nervousness" - he points out.

"Anger is an unusual negative emotion, it can have positive consequences - it motivates and increases self-esteem" - he acknowledges.

Zajenkowski now intends to study angry people at the time of outbursts. He wants to check if they believe that they are smarter than they actually are also at the moment of nervousness. Research previously carried out by various groups of scientists has shown that people experimentally put in a state of anger have several different tendencies. Some are more likely to take risks or become unrealistically optimistic.

PAP - Science in Poland, Szymon Zdziebłowski

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