Presentation on theme: "Does Venting Anger Feed or Extinguish the Flame? (or Spock Had it Right!) Brad J. Bushman, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology Professor of Communication Studies."— Presentation transcript:
Does Venting Anger Feed or Extinguish the Flame? (or Spock Had it Right!) Brad J. Bushman, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology Professor of Communication Studies Research Professor, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA Professor of Communication Science, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Outline zCatharsis theory zWhy does catharsis theory survive? zDo media messages work? zDoes venting work if people believe in it? zDoes rumination help or hurt? zMeta-analysis
Catharsis Theory zDates back to Aristotle. zTerm comes from the Greek katharsis, which means to cleanse or purge. zPosits that acting aggressively or even viewing aggression purges angry feelings.
Hydraulic Model Frustrations lead to anger, and anger builds up inside a person, like steam inside a pressure cooker, until it is vented. If anger isnt vented, the person will eventually explode in an aggressive rage.
Moratorium on Catharsis Theory In 1973, Albert Bandura issued a statement calling for a moratorium on catharsis theory and the use of venting in therapy because they may inadvertently reinforce aggressive tendencies.
Venting Anger is Like Using Gasoline to Put Out a Fire It Feeds the Flame! zVenting keeps arousal levels high. zVenting keeps aggressive thoughts active in memory. zVenting keeps angry feelings alive.
Why Does Catharsis Theory Survive? zProfessional psychologists zPop psychologists zMass media
Do Media Messages Work? zPro-catharsis: Research Shows that Hitting Inanimate Objects is an Effective Way to Vent Anger. zAnti-catharsis: Research Shows that Hitting Inanimate Objects is an Ineffective Way to Vent Anger. zControl: Marijuana Smoking Linked to Bleeding Gums. Subjects: 180 men, 180 women
ItemNot angeredAngered Organization Originality+9-9 Writing style+9-9 Clarity of expression+8-8 Persuasive arguments+9-9 Overall rating+9-9 Comment:Great essay! One of the worst essays Ive read!
Subjects Rated a List of Activities zPlaying solitaire zReading a short story zWatching a comedy zPlaying a computer game zHitting a punching bag
Punching bag preference Pro-CatharsisControlAnti-catharsis Not angered Angered Bushman, Baumeister, & Stack (1999) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Study 1
Placebo Effect If venting works under any conditions, it should work when people believe that it works.
Does Venting Work if People Believe That it Works? zVenting: Hit or did not hit punching bag zMessage: Pro-catharsis, anti-catharsis, or control zAggression target: Provocateur or innocent third party Subjects: 350 men, 350 women
Bushman, Baumeister, & Stack (1999) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Study 2
Hit BagDidn't Hit Bag Aggression Pro-catharsis ControlAnti-catharsis Predictions based on catharsis theory
Anti-placebo effect Bushman, Baumeister, & Stack (1999) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Study 2 Actual results
Aggression Target zDisplaced aggression: Target was an innocent bystander. zDirect aggression: Target was the same person who criticized the essay. zSubjects who vented were just as aggressive against an innocent bystander as against the person who criticized them.
Bushman, Baumeister, & Stack (1999) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Study 2 Most People Love to Vent Anger! It Feels Good!
Correlations between measures ____________________________________ Measure ____________________________________ 1. Desire to hit bag.23*.19* 2. Enjoyed hitting bag.11* 3. Aggression ____________________________________ Bushman, Baumeister, & Stack (1999) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Study 2 Catharsis theory would predict negative correlations, but all are positive!
Does Rumination Feed or Extinguish the Flame? zRumination zDistraction zControl Subjects: 300 men, 300 women
Bushman (2002) Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Pressure Cooker Analogy zWait until the pressure cooker explodes. zPeriodically reduce the pressure by venting steam. zLower the flame and reduce the heat!
Effective Ways to Reduce Anger zDelay: Let the anger dissipate. zDistraction: Think about something else. zRelaxation: Try to reduce arousal. zIncompatible response: Do something incompatible with anger and aggression.
Conclusions zCatharsis media messages work. zVenting anger doesnt work (even if people believe that it does). zPeople feel good after venting, but the good feeling increases aggression. zVenting anger causes people to aggress against innocent bystanders.
Conclusions zRumination makes people more angry and aggressive. zExercise can distract people (and is good for the heart), but it is not an effective way to reduce anger and aggression. zFour strategies do reduce anger and aggression: delay, distraction, relaxation, and incompatible responses.
How Do I Get This Research? zAll articles are on my web page: z zQuestions?