Friday, November 04, 2005

Fear = Bad; Anger = Good


Via Echidne comes this interesting study: Anger is Good For You. In short, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon designed a really creative and clever experiment to monitor the differences between people who respond to frustrating, helpless and scary experiences with fear and those who respond with anger.

The people whose faces showed more fear during the [test] had higher blood pressure and higher levels of the hormone [cortisol]. The findings were the same for men and women.

Lerner previously studied Americans' emotional response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks two months afterward and found that anger triggers feelings of certainty and control. People who reacted with anger were more optimistic about risk and more likely to favor an aggressive response to terrorism.
That reminded me of this anecdote I wrote about before:
This summer I went to Wilmington, NC to a wedding. Wilmington is a heavily Republican area. During five days there, the only Kerry/Edwards sticker I saw was on my car, and even that one went missing one night. Before the wedding I went to a local place to get a haircut. The lady, about 40-ish I'd say, was talkative. I kept saying uncommital stuff just to egg her on, to hear the whole story.

She was talking about "them". Those "them" apparently was a grab-bag category that included Osama Bin-Laden, Iraqis, Moslems, terrorists of all kinds, and foreigners of all kinds. She was deathly afraid of all of "them".

It never crossed her mind that all those people don't have much to do with each other, or that most of them are kinda nice if you get to meet them. It never crossed her mind that no terrorist is going to waste the time, money and lives to hit Wilmington, NC. It never crossed her mind that 9/11 was a freak accident - one time when the bunch of wackos managed to do something successfully for their terrorist aims. It never crossed her mind that Al Qaida is not some huge monolithic organization, but just a bunch of morons collecting porn on their old computers and always scheming something but rarely ever trying to actually put their schemes to work. When they do, they are successful because our defenses are pathetic, not because they are geniuses.

Yet, in the end, she said this [paraphrase]: "You know, some people say that perhaps we here, in America, don't have the most equal of societies, you know, towards women and gays and such. But you know, I'd never go live anywhere else. Who cares about your rights if you are not safe. I'd rather give up on some of those rights than get killed by terrorists."

Whoa! She is willing to wear a jumper in order to be safe, and she'll be safe if she votes Republican, because Republicans are known to be good at security against the phantom menace she believes in. How many things so wrong can one pack into so little talk?
So, my first response to the study cited above was: why didn't they ask people, as a part of the questionnaire, who they voted for in 2004? I bet Fear = Bush and Anger = Kerry in large proportions.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:36 PM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink