Study: Anger Boosts Male Power, Reduces Female Influence

Attorney addressing jury in courtA juror’s gender may influence the extent to which other jurors defer to him or her. A recent study has shown men who express anger to get a point across are more likely to gain agreement, but when women express anger in the same way, they may lose influence.

The study, which was published in Law and Human Behavior, suggests the same angry behavior may be perceived differently based on the speaker’s gender.

Anger in the Jury Room: Who Wields Power?

Jury deliberations can be a contentious undertaking. A single juror can alter the outcome of a case, particularly if he or she convinces jurors to view the case or evidence differently.

To better understand influential behaviors during jury deliberations, researchers recruited 210 undergraduate students to participate in a computer-simulated mock jury deliberation. Each participant believed he or she was participating alongside five other participants, but the other participants’ actions were scripted. Each “jury” viewed a 17-minute presentation based on evidence in a real murder case. Participants read summaries of opening and closing statements, reviewed eyewitness accounts, and viewed photos of the murder weapon and crime scene.

Deliberations began with a preliminary vote. Then the group began exchanging messages to try to reach a verdict. Four of the five jurors agreed with the study subject’s verdict, but one disagreed. The holdout juror had a username clearly identifying his or her gender, and the other jurors had gender-neutral usernames.

Each scripted response contained substantially similar arguments. Some holdout arguments were presented angrily, and others were presented fearfully. The rest remained in a neutral tone. When the male holdouts expressed anger in their opinions, the participants’ willingness to change their minds about the verdict greatly increased. But when women expressed anger in the same way, participants’ confidence in their opinions increased.

The effect held true for both male and female study participants, suggesting even women are more likely to believe angry men. The study’s authors say their results are disconcerting, because people may become angry when they feel passionately about a subject. Thus, women’s passionately expressed opinions may be discounted by the general population for being too emotional, while men’s are granted more credibility.

References:

  1. Hays, B. (2015, October 26). Study: Being an angry white male is key to being influential. Retrieved from http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2015/10/26/Study-Being-an-angry-white-male-is-key-to-being-influential/8211445881167
  2. Study shows angry men gain influence and angry women lose influence. (2015, October 26). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-10/asu-ssa102615.php

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  • Brittany

    Brittany

    October 27th, 2015 at 10:25 AM

    This is why I find so many men walk around angry and belligerent all of the time because they know that this kind of attitude gets things done.

  • Kelly

    Kelly

    October 28th, 2015 at 10:19 AM

    Good grief ladies! Sounds like we still have a long way to go toward equality in this world! sigh…

  • Mark

    Mark

    October 28th, 2015 at 5:11 PM

    I am pretty sure that it should be the facts that make jurors reach their decisions and not one person getting up and having things go their way through bad behavior.

  • pam

    pam

    October 29th, 2015 at 2:58 PM

    You kind of have to wonder what type of results would have been found if this was actually done in a real life situation and those playing their parts weren’t acting. Would they actually use that same kind of forcefulness and anger if those were not simulated? I know that this could actually happen so I do not doubt that there is some truth to the study. But maybe there could be some over acting that wouldn’t actually be done in the real world? I don’t know, just a thought.

  • Laurence

    Laurence

    October 30th, 2015 at 7:36 PM

    Do you not believe that the act of anger is all a part of the make bravado that many of us carry with us?
    It is sort of that we learned very early on that this is what may get us ahead and so many of us went for it and decided that this was going to be a permanent part of our personality.

  • karen

    karen

    October 31st, 2015 at 11:23 AM

    This is really very scary when you consider that with a wrong little movement any of us could be at the hands of a juror who is so willing to go all out and argue for something that you could be at the losing end of that argument. I wonder of there has ever been any investiga

  • Jan

    Jan

    January 1st, 2016 at 7:44 PM

    I’m so upset because that’s why my husband yells so often since he feels that’s the only way I listen to him when in fact I’m repulsed by his damaging behavior towards me. I can’t seem to get him to change his communication style so I just have to walk away from him or end up escalating into an raging fight.

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