Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not always helpful to express your anger. Another new discovery is that some people actually ENCOURAGE other people to get angry at them because they find it rewarding.

Psychologist Oliver Schultheiss has discovered that despite the fact that an angry facial expression if viewed as a “negative signal by almost everyone,” it is “a tasty morsel that some people will vigorously work for.” He thinks this may explain why some people like to tease each other so much, and says, “Perhaps teasers are reinforced by that fleeting ‘annoyed look’ on someone else’s face and therefore will continue to heckle that person to get that look again and again. As long as it does not stay there for long, it’s not perceived as a threat, but as a reward.” It could also help explain a lot of the bullying that goes on in schools.

Working with psychologist Michelle Wirth, Schultheiss took saliva samples from participants to measure their testosterone, a hormone that has been associated with dominance. The participants were then given a complex computer task. At the end of this, some of them saw an angry face on their computer screens, while others saw a face with a neutral expression. Participants who learned the task better when it was followed by an angry face also had higher testosterone levels.

This could explain why some researchers think that boys and girls should attend separate schools. Boys, who generally have higher testosterone levels, may learn better when confronted by strict discipline, while girls may may benefit more from a softer approach.

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