Angry women are often dismissed

A study confirms what everybody already knew: women can’t win.

Angry men are strong and forceful, while angry women are often dismissed as overly emotional. That double standard has been alleged for years now, with plenty of anecdotal evidence to back it up.

A newly published study featuring a mock jury not only supports that assertion: It takes it a step further, suggesting women’s anger may actually be counterproductive. It finds that, while men who express anger are more likely to influence their peers, the opposite is true for women.

Well that’s annoying.

Oh dear, I just made it worse.

“Our results lend scientific support to a frequent claim voiced by women, sometimes dismissed as paranoia,” conclude psychologists Jessica Salerno of Arizona State University and Liana Peter-Hagene of the University of Illinois–Chicago. They suggest the belief “that people would have listened to her impassioned argument, had she been a man” is, in many cases, valid.

They did a study via a mock-trial experiment on computer screens. There was one holdout on the jury, who spoke neutrally or with fear or with anger. The holdout could be male or female.

“Participants became more confident in their own opinion after learning they were in the majority,” the researchers report. “But (they) then started doubting their own opinion significantly after the male holdout expressed anger.”

In contrast, “when a female holdout expressed anger, participants became significantly more confident in their own opinion over the course of deliberation.”

This dynamic—which held true for both male and female participants—meant that “men were able to exert more social pressure by expressing anger,” whereas women actually lost influence when they did the same thing.

Huh. So I’ve been writing this often-irritated blog for more than 14 years now, losing influence all the time. Seems a bit futile, doesn’t it.

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