A study carried out at the private research university of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shows facial displays of emotion (specifically facial displays of fear and anger) provides an objective indicator of individual differences in the emotional experience of a stressor and its likely association with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis responses.
Facial Displays of Fear and Anger
The study indicates that facial displays reflecting anger and disgust could be associated with reduced cortisol and cardiovascular stress responses; but facial expressions of fears signal elevated cortisol and cardiovascular reactivity. Researchers involved in the study believes that the findings indicate possible diverging responses to stress and that this understanding can help individuals improve physical and mental health.
Though fear, anger and disgust are all negative emotions, they elicit different stress responses. The researchers indicated that anger and disgust triggers an optimistic perception that can give an individual a sense of certainty and control; whereas fear can lead people along a pessimistic path to see greater risk and thus lack individual control in situations of stress.
The study comprised of 92 participants (45 men and 47 women) with an average age of approximately 21 years old. They were given annoyingly stress-challenge tasks to induce stress. The study indicated the kind of adaptedness to stressful events, and concluded that low facial expression can predict biological stress responses.
Not All Anger Is Bad
This study simply indicates that anger is not all bad. A moment of anger, from a stressful situation such as doing some mental arithmetic or periodic provocation by someone, won't elevate your stress level immediately; but fear can do that in a matter of seconds and compromise your mental and physical health. It is still important not to let your anger consistently overcome you on a regular basis. You can place yourself at risk with developing cardiovascular disease.
(For more information, refer to:
Jennifer S. Lerner, Ronald E. Dahl, Ahmad R. Hariri, and Shelley E. Taylor. (2007). Facial Expressions of Emotion Reveal Neuroendocrine and Cardiovascular Stress Responses).
Don't forget to leave your comments in the comment box on this article, Facial Displays of Fear and Anger.
Articles in this series:
That disturbing emotion called Anger
Is there such a thing as healthy anger
Do I have anger issues
Simple anger test
Facial displays of anger
Linking diet and antisocial behaviour
Methods and techniques of Anger Management
What is anger management
Quenching anger before it becomes destructive
Coping with the roadblocks of life
What triggers your anger bug
Teaching children anger management skills
When others are mad at you
"Stop anger, be happy"
"A Poison Tree" by William Blake