Put on Your Game Face: Looking Angry Can Help You Get What You Want

Science & Tech / Discoveries

Put on Your Game Face: Looking Angry Can Help You Get What You Want

By: Nicole Capo

If you’re the passive-aggressive type, then odds are you have a hard time getting other people to do what you want. The key to successfully convincing others to cave in to your demands? Anger, or at least appearing angry, according to a new study.

The findings are the results of two experiments which studied how facial gestures can change the outcome of a confrontation. In one experiment, 870 participants were each told to split $1 with someone else. If they couldn’t agree on how to split the dollar, neither would get any money. In most cases where the negotiator — an actress, unbeknownst to the participants — demanded 70 cents on the dollar with an angry expression, more people agreed than when she wore a neutral expression. Interestingly, in the cases where she asked for a 50-50 split, an angry expression didn’t seem to make an impact.

“If you come in with a scowl on your face, they’re going to take your threat more seriously,” Lawrence Ian Reed, co-author of the study, told Today in an interview. “You might think a poker face would be better in a negotiation. But in a bargaining situation when you make threats, your facial expression could add credibility to what you are saying.”

There is, of course, an exception to the rule.

When it comes to pulling off the angry look, “only a small minority can fake it,” explained Reed. If you’re planning on using this knowledge to win a negotiation, consider investing in an acting class. The person you negotiate with won’t fall in line if they smell a phony.

This is just another in a string of studies that highlight the importance of face-to-face interaction and body language. In an age where fewer and fewer people are able to even make eye contact with each other, these studies may help to encourage new methods of coercing folks towards human contact versus screen time. Sanity aside, the tech addiction is seriously ruining our communal self-esteem and alienating our friends.

Now, go practice your angry face in a mirror. It’s time to start spending your time amongst the masses, making them do whatever you want them to.

[Pic via Flickr - Michael Bentley]

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