If you want to make an impact at work, never lose your cool – if you’re a woman, that is.
According to the Daily Mail, researchers have found that while men who express anger have a strong influence over their peers, the opposite is true for women.
In a mock jury-deliberation task involving 210 participants, jurors became much less confident in their own verdicts if one of the other male jurors got angry while expressing a differing opinion.
But if a female juror expressed anger she lost influence and the others became significantly more confident in their own verdicts – even though the angry woman was expressing the same opinion and emotion as the angry man.
Rather than being respected, the angry women were dismissed as being overly emotional, said the study published in the journal Law and Human Behavior.
The study suggests that “expressing anger might lead men to gain influence, but women to lose influence over others”, said the team from Arizona State University.
They added: “People drew different inferences about female versus male anger, which affected how participants viewed their own opinion.
“When women expressed anger they were perceived as more emotional, which made people more confident in their own opinion.”
For the study, participants were told they would be put into groups of six jurors, with whom they would deliberate online.
The experiment began with the participants each reading, on a computer screen, a 17-minute presentation of a murder trial, based on a real case.
Written descriptions of the opening and closing statements, and testimony from witnesses and experts were provided.
Next, each participant was asked to give a preliminary verdict of guilty or not guilty, before beginning their online interactions with what they thought were five other jurors trying to reach their own verdicts.
In reality, the messages the participant was receiving were pre-scripted: four of the ‘jurors’ agreed with the participant, while a fifth disagreed (the ‘holdout’ juror).
The username of the ‘holdout’ was either male or female – ‘Jason’ or ‘Alicia’ – while the username of the other fake jurors were gender-neutral, for example’ JJohnson’, or ‘syoun96’.
At first the holdout expressed no emotion with their comments, but as deliberations continued, the researchers inserted ‘clear expressions of anger’ into the holdout’s comments.
During the course of the online discussion, the participants were periodically asked to express the level of confidence he or she had in his original verdict.
While there had been no ‘gender effect’ when deliberations remained emotionally uncharged, things changed completely once anger was added to the mix.