Women Who Express Anger Seen as Less Influential

Jessica Salerno

Jessica Salerno

Men, but not women, who expressed anger were more likely to influence their peers in computer-mediated mock jury proceedings, evaluated by Arizona State University’s Jessica Salerno and Liana Peter-Hagene of University of Illinois.

In fact, they found that women who expressed anger are seen as less influential, reinforcing trends reported in a previous blog post.

Liana Peter-Hagene

Liana Peter-Hagene

More than 200 U.S. jury-eligible volunteers reviewed a presentation summarizing opening and closing statements in a homicide, and related eyewitness testimonies, crime scene photographs, and an image of the alleged weapon.

Participants rendered an initial guilty or not guilty verdict, then exchanged instant messages by computer, with “peers” who were said to be deliberating their verdict decisions.

In fact, “peer” messages were scripted, with four of the fictional jurors agreeing with the participant’s verdict, and one disagreeing.
The dissenting participant had a male user name or a female user name or a gender-neutral name.

Victoria Brescoll

Victoria Brescoll

Half of the dissenting “jurors”, both male and female, sent messages containing no emotion, anger, or fear.
These communications had no influence on participants’ opinions.
However, participants’ confidence in their verdict decision dropped significantly even when their vote was shared by the majority of other “jurors” but when a single “male dissenter” sent angry messages, characterized by “shouting” in all capital letters.

In contrast, volunteers became more confident in their initial verdict decisions when their vote was echoed by the majority of other participants.
These participants’ assurance was not significantly diminished when a single female dissenter responded with angry emotional message, suggesting that “females” expressing the same angry message as males were discounted and contributed to greater conviction in the shared decision.

Eric Luis Uhlmann

Eric Luis Uhlmann

Previously, Yale University’s Victoria Brescoll and Eric Luis Uhlmann, now of HEC Paris School of Management, demonstrated that both male and female evaluators conferred lower status on angry female professionals, regardless of the actual occupational rank, compared with angry male professionals.

They reported that evaluators assigned lower status to female CEOs as well as to female trainees when they expressed anger, despite these women’s varying job role statuses.

Kristi Lewis Tyran

Kristi Lewis Tyran

In addition, men who expressed anger in a professional context were conferred higher status than men who expressed sadness.
Likewise, women who expressed anger and sadness were rated less effective than women who shared no emotion, according to Kristi Lewis Tyran of Western Washington University.

Evaluators judged men’s angry reactions more generously, attributing these emotional expressions to understandable external circumstances, such as having external pressure and demands.

This differential judgment of anger by men and women suggests that women who do not regulate their emotional expressions are more harshly evaluated because their behaviors deviate from expected societal, gender, and cultural norms.

-*What impacts and consequences have you observed for women and men who express anger at work?


Twitter:  @kathrynwelds
Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary
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©Kathryn Welds


One thought on “Women Who Express Anger Seen as Less Influential

  1. kathrynwelds Post author

    Gary W. Kelly wrote:

    Very interesting!
    How does this play out in terms of this year’s Presidential election?
    Male candidates seem to have an advantage in that they can express anger and be thought of
    Ms. Clinton has a past history of having anger management issues while First Lady . . . If she expresses anger, will this impact her chances during primaries and the selection process by her party?
    It would appear so, which is an interesting social inhibition to Ms. Clinton’s first amendment right to speak freely and respond equally to political matters.

    Kathryn Welds responded:

    Thanks for your comment, Gary.
    You have highlighted the “backlash” challenge faced by women who act in ways that deviate from expected gender norms, such as expressing anger or vigorously negotiating salary.

    A number of these findings are reviewed in a previous blog post:
    Women’s Likeability – Competence Dilemma: Overcoming the Backlash Effect –



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