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Is It Ever Worthwhile to Get Angry?

The results of a 2015 study published in the journal Law and Human Behavior reinforce the notion that when men respond forcefully -- even with obvious anger -- in group deliberations, they are more likely to influence other people to agree with them. However, in classic double-standard style, women who do the same thing are regarded as overly emotional and their dissent is considered counterproductive. “Our results lend scientific support to a frequent claim voiced by women,” the researchers said, that their views are “sometimes dismissed as paranoia."

When jurors get angry:

  • In the study, 210 college students reviewed evidence and read eyewitness testimonies from a real-life murder trial. After making a preliminary decision about guilt or innocence, the students discussed the case in an online chat environment, which was actually scripted in advance.
  • When lone dissenters were introduced, with usernames that were obviously male or female, the researchers were able to observe how the study participants reacted to forceful, angry dissent and whether they changed their opinion of the suspect's guilt or innocence.
  • The mock jurors questioned their own opinions “significantly after the male holdout expressed anger,” the researchers wrote. However, when it appeared that a female holdout was angrily dissenting, the jurors became “more confident” in their own opinions.
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