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Anger makes women less influential than men

Researchers at Arizona State University in the US have found substantial evidence of the workplace double standard against women. A recent study shows that women who express anger are punished, while men are rewarded with support.

The study asked students to participate in a mock jury simulation in which two groups of six were given evidence and asked to deliberate and come up with a verdict. Two of the jurors were scripted so the other four would agree with one and the sixth would disagree by showing signs of anger.

In some of the situations, the holdout juror was a man called Jason, while in others it was a woman called Alicia. Both used the same language to try to gain control and expressed the same dissenting opinion. Afterwards, they were asked to fill out a survey about how emotional, angry, trustworthy, influential, likable, competent, credible, persuasive and rational they perceived their group members to be.

The results showed that when the holdout juror was Alicia, she lost supporters after expressing anger. In one situation, the group members actually felt more confident in their decision when Alicia got angry.

However, when Jason used anger to express his opinion, he gained support from other members and they were significantly more likely to change their minds based on his actions.

Psychologists Jessica Salerno and Liana Peter-Hagene, who lead the study, believe the findings validate the concept that people are more likely to listen to a man’s impassioned argument than a woman’s. The research supports a 2008 study that found men gain status while women lose it after expressing anger.

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