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Why anger feeds misinformation...

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

Of course we know how anger impedes our judgement - that hot flash of temper, annoyance or irritation. Many crimes of passion bear testimony to this. Ask OJ Simpson for one.

But less obvious is how anger makes us more prone to misinformation.

You might be forgiven for thinking curiosity, envy, novelty or empathy might cause you to wrongly believe streams of misinformation - but not anger.

Newly published research now proves just how much anger can cloud judgement

79 participants watched an 8-minute film clip, completed two cognitive tasks and a scripted interview. In the two conditions, the manipulated group was interrupted, had a clumsy interviewer who made mistakes, and were asked to write about an angry experience rather than a neutral one. They were mad!

The study found that anger didn’t impair people’s ability to recognize film details but angry people were far more susceptible to misinformation. In addition, the angry participants were more likely to misattribute details from the initial quiz to the film. They were also more confident in their memory accuracy which of course was inaccurate.

Misinformation is shared virally quicker than the truth. Why? Because we like to be first in with the news - it bestows special status. when we are angry, any restraint to reconsider false information disappears - especially if it provoked or shocks us.

This feeds the hype machine of social media.

So next time you get angry - or see anger - pause and consider just how much this risks impeding not just your decision-making but that of others.



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