Anger Won't Help You Get Ahead in the Workplace

By   |  February 20, 2024

By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter  |  Copyright © 2024 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

TUESDAY, Feb. 20, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Being an angry hard-charger won’t win you any points in the workplace, new research has found.

Prior evidence had suggested that workers who express anger are judged to be competent and hold a higher status, the researchers noted.

But the new studies refute those earlier findings, according to researchers from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Princeton University.

"We found that anger isn't a catalyst for higher status in the workplace," said researcher Roni Porat, a senior lecturer of political science and international relations at the Hebrew University.

"Moreover, we found that anger is regarded more poorly than other emotional expressions like sadness,” Porat said in a university news release. “The only instance in which anger is considered as positive is when it is expressed in response to another person’s clear wrongdoing. These findings hold for both men and women expressing anger in the workplace."

Data from the study show that people assume that individuals expressing anger have higher status, researchers said.

However, they do not reward anger with more status because they find that anger to be inappropriate, cold, an overreaction and counter-productive, results show.

Researchers also found that people hold many negative attitudes toward expressions of anger in the workplace. Such expressions were cited as more harmful, foolish and worthless than other emotional reactions.

Across four studies, researchers experimentally manipulated people’s expression of emotion in the workplace, including anger and sadness.

The studies varied the gender of the person expressing the emotion, swapping between men and women.

“This is important, given some work demonstrating that women are penalized for expressing anger while men are rewarded,” Porat noted.

The studies also varied the target of the emotion -- for example, another person or a set of circumstances -- as well as the context of the emotion, such as in a job interview or around the water cooler.

Researchers then asked participants to indicate how much status, power, independence and respect that the worker who expressed the emotion deserves in their organization. Participants also were asked to indicate how much annual salary they’d pay the worker.

Interestingly, the results showed that gender doesn’t matter when it comes to a person’s reaction to an angry expression.

"Despite influential studies in this area, we didn't find that women’s anger is regarded differently than men’s anger," Porat said.

The new study was published Feb. 13 in the journal Frontiers in Social Psychology.

More information

Harvard University has more about managing anger in the workplace.

SOURCE: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, news release, Feb. 19, 2024

What This Means For You

Expressing anger in the workplace might do more harm than good to your professional reputation.