What makes you angry

Emotions: why do we get angry?

If you want to experience the unbroken, holy anger, you will find it in traffic. Nothing stirs emotions as reliably as "the idiot who sneaks around here with 30 things" and thus steals valuable seconds of your own life. Psychology discovered the phenomenon long ago. “Driving anger”, that is, the anger when driving, has already established itself as a separate research topic. Because the hotheads of the country roads often become a problem for other road users themselves. Previously put in an angry mood, test subjects on the driving simulator run over yellow traffic lights more often, for example. This was the result of an Israeli study by Rotem Abdu and colleagues from 2012. So-called "high anger drivers", who are permanently prone to outbursts of anger behind the wheel, are even a risk group in road traffic: They are up to four times more likely to engage in aggressive driving maneuvers break measurably more traffic rules.

There have long been therapy programs designed to help people get a better grip on their anger while driving. There the angry drivers learn, for example, to mentally restructure provocations and to meet them with more composure or even humor. Together with your therapist you will develop short relaxation rituals. Take five deep breaths, loosen up important muscle groups, repeat a certain formula ("I'm calming down!") Several times: Even such simple countermeasures help to cope with the many unreasonable demands of road traffic.

  1. Most people have one to two tantrums a week, according to surveys. This is no coincidence, researchers believe: in the distant past, emotions could have helped ensure our survival.

  2. How we deal with the anger of others differs depending on the culture. While Americans make more concessions to angry negotiating partner, Asians treat angry contemporaries less courteously.

  3. According to scientists, the best recipe against budding anger is to wait and see: if you vent your anger, it usually only increases your anger.

This article is featured in Spectrum Compact, The 7 Deadly Sins - Dark Facets of Our Character

Anger doesn't look good on us. A bright red head, raised eyebrows, wide nostrils, eyes narrowed to slits, while the arms wiggle wildly in the air - it is not entirely by chance that the typically angry posture is reminiscent of a toddler. Unchecked anger is considered improper in a civilized environment. Anyone who regularly becomes a fury quickly positions themselves socially on the sidelines. The expression "get out of your skin" shows how quickly we forget our good manners in excessive anger and are no longer ourselves for a short time.

Sometimes outbursts of anger also exert a real fascination on us: The actor Klaus Kinski (1926–1991) had established his salvos of abuse as a trademark. The former Bavarian Prime Minister Franz Josef Strauss (1915–1988) was also known for his hot-headed nature - and sometimes feared. The incendiary speech of the Italian soccer coach Giovanni Trapattoni even entered common parlance: after FC Bayern Munich's defeat by FC Schalke 04 in 1998, he vented his anger in a press conference, describing some of his players as “weak as a bottle «And ended with the legendary words» I've finished «.

A holdover from rough days

Such freaks are not uncommon: In surveys, most of the respondents admit to one or two outbursts of anger per week - especially often after they have experienced an injustice, for example when someone else has harmed them and there is nothing they can do about it. There are many indications that anger played an important role in evolution. When we are angry, the hormone norepinephrine is released, the heart beats faster, blood pressure rises: This is how the body prepares itself for a fight-or-flight reaction that can save its own skin in an emergency - for example when it comes to it to fend off a deadly attacker. Anger should inspire us to perform at our best. The organism releases energy reserves, directs its attention to the threat and, last but not least, sends the enemy a clear message: Warning, this guy is not to be trifled with!

Fortunately, such extreme situations rarely occur in everyday urban life in the 21st century. Usually it is more everyday annoyances that get the blood pumping: The neighbour's stereo system from downstairs hums incessantly, the car is parked, the boss questions your own abilities. Such an eruptive reaction seems completely exaggerated - here, those who maintain composure and know how to curb their anger are more likely to triumph.