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Study: Angry Men More Influential Than Angry Women

FILE - A new study shows that men become more influential in a jury setting when they display anger while the opposite is true of women.

Angry men appear to gain influence in a group, but angry women appear to lose influence, according to a new study.

Writing in the journal "Law and Human Behavior," researchers from Arizona State University examined jury deliberations and found a “distinct gender bias” between the ability to influence people by angry men and angry women.

“Our study suggests that women might not have the same opportunity for influence when they express anger,” said ASU psychologist Jessica Salerno, co-author of the study in a statement. "We found that when men expressed their opinion with anger, participants rated them as more credible, which made them less confident in their own opinion.But when women expressed identical arguments and anger, they were perceived as more emotional, which made participants more confident in their own opinion.”

To reach their conclusions, researchers chose 210 “jury-eligible” undergraduate students.The students then took part in a computer simulation of a five-person jury deliberation on evidence from a real murder trial.

After hearing the evidence, students had to decide if the suspect was guilty or not guilty.

Then, they began to deliberate with simulated jury members by exchanging messages.

The messages were scripted so that four of the fictional jury members agreed with the participants verdict and one disagreed.The jurists who disagreed all had usernames that clearly indicated whether they were male or female.

Some messages were in an angry tone while others varied from fear to neutral.

Periodically, the participants were asked if they felt confident in their initial verdict.After the deliberations, they voted again on the guilt of the accused.

“Participants' confidence in their own verdict dropped significantly after male holdouts expressed anger,” according to the researchers.“Participants became significantly more confident in their original verdicts after female holdouts expressed anger, even though they were expressing the exact same opinion and emotion as the male holdouts.”

The study could have implications outside the jury deliberation room.

“Our results have implications for any woman who is trying to exert influence on a decision in their workplace and everyday lives, including governing bodies, task forces and committees,” said Salerno.

She added that in a political debate a female candidate might have less influence if she shows anger.

Referring to the 2016 Democratic presidential candidates race, Salerno said, “This might explain why Bernie Sanders is able to freely express his passion and conviction, while Hillary Clinton clearly regulates her emotions more carefully."