The Hidden Brain

Our unconscious biases.

Why Ka-Boom! and Ka-Ching! Go Together

Anger Makes People Want Things More

Anger can make people want things more, according to a counterintuitive new study which found that when people associate a product with anger, they desire it more.

Henk Aarts of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and his colleagues showed people a number of objects such as pens and mugs. Before the picture of the object appeared on a screen, Aarts subliminally primed his volunteers with an angry, fearful or neutral face. He found that people later reported wanting the object more when they had been primed with the angry face rather than the fearful face. They also exerted more physical effort in acquiring the object in a subsequent test.

Aarts thinks there is an evolutionary reason for the phenomenon: In a statement issued via Psychological Science, where the paper was published, he said, that in competitive environments such as the struggle over a limited food supply or in battle, "If the food does not make you angry or doesn't produce aggression in your system, you may starve and lose the battle."

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

In a recent puzzle posted on the Hidden Brain's Facebook page, I asked:

You have to decide whether to buy something. You are most likely to make the purchase when
A) You are angry
B) You are fearful
C) You are angry and fearful
D) You are neither angry nor fearful

The correct answer is A.

Does this theory explain the behavior of all those angry couples we see in movies who patch up fights by having sex?

Tell your friends to sign up to receive puzzles at the Facebook Page of The Hidden Brain.

 

 

Shankar Vedantam is a science reporter with National Public Radio and a Nieman fellow at Harvard University.

more...

Subscribe to The Hidden Brain

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?