Women Who Express Anger Seen as Less Influential

Jessica Salerno

Jessica Salerno

Women who expressed anger were less likely to influence their peers in computer-mediated mock jury proceedings, found Arizona State University’s Jessica Salerno and Liana Peter-Hagene of University of Illinois. 

Liana Peter-Hagene

Liana Peter-Hagene

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

Participants made individual verdict choices, 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 messages contained no emotion, anger, or fear, and these communications had no influence on participants’ opinions.

However, participants’ confidence in their verdict decision significantly dropped when a single “male dissenter” sent angry messages, characterized by “shouting” in all capital letters.
Confidence in the verdict decision dropped even when the vote was shared by the majority of other “jurors.”
This finding suggests the persuasive impact of a single male dissenter’s angry communication.

In contrast, volunteers became more confident in their initial verdict decisions when their vote was echoed by the majority of other participants.

This confidence was was maintained when a single female dissenter responded with angry emotional message, suggesting that “female” anger was less influential than “male” anger.

Eric Luis Uhlmann

Eric Luis Uhlmann

Male and female evaluators conferred lower status on angry female professionals compared with angry male professionals in research by Yale University’s Victoria Brescoll and Eric Luis Uhlmann, now of INSEAD.
Evaluators assigned lower status to female CEOs and to female trainees when they expressed anger.

Kristi Lewis Tyran

Kristi Lewis Tyran

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 external circumstances, such as experiencing pressure and demands from others.

These differing judgments of emotional expression suggest that women’s anger is more harshly evaluated because anger expressions deviate from women’s expected societal, gender, and cultural norms.

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


©Kathryn Welds

1 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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