Anger Evokes Both Psychological and Physiological Responses

In a recent study published in the journal “Hormones and Behavior,” researchers were able to show that in addition to altering a person’s mental state, anger alters their physical state as well. Thirty men were tested both before and after being made angry through inflammatory phrases. The results were increased heart rate, increased testosterone levels, and increased arterial tension, as well as asymmetric brain activity. That last part, the brain activity, showed that while we perceive anger as provoking withdrawal, it actually stimulates parts of the brain that corresponded with emotional closeness. The study’s researchers see this as a sign that our natural urge is not to avoid the source of our anger, but to resolve it.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Hannah

    Hannah

    June 12th, 2010 at 6:17 AM

    Yes the hormones really start pumping when I get angry. Many times I even cry!

  • ronald

    ronald

    June 12th, 2010 at 11:15 PM

    the finding that perceiving anger actually stimulates the parts of brain corresponding to emotional closeness bodes well with another report that I read somewhere else that similar activities happen in our brain when there are feeling of anger,like something in a war,and when a person has feelings of love…sounds a little weird but our brain is something that we are yet to fully understand.

  • Betty I.

    Betty I.

    June 13th, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    Anger and even fear,I think,evoke similar things like increased heart rate and profuse sweating…needs thorough study to be sure of it though…

  • Kyle

    Kyle

    June 13th, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    Sometimes when I get angry I know that my blood pressure is on the rise cause I can feel my heart start beating faster and my face getting red. I want to confront the issue and come to some kind of resolution because I know that avoiding the issue is only gonna cause it to come back up at another time, but if I just get it out and get it over with then it is better after that and everything goes away.

  • Frank

    Frank

    June 13th, 2010 at 11:36 PM

    “The results were increased heart rate, increased testosterone levels, and increased arterial tension, as well as asymmetric brain activity.”

    I think it is this asymmetric brain activity that prompts us to do things that we would not actually have done under normal circumstances but would easily do when we are angry.Although this is also related to emotional closeness,it must nevertheless also be related to below-par judgement levels,because we often do undesirable things when angry!

  • peter materson

    peter materson

    June 14th, 2010 at 2:51 AM

    I feel bad after I do something in anger…I think this has to do with anger and emotions having the same part of brain dealing with them…I’d really like to get over my temper but I’m just not able to…I think I can the next time but it never works :(

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