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Science explains how to reduce anger after insult or provocation

Science explains how to reduce anger after insult or provocation

The “recipe” is the result of a team of researchers from Nagoya University (Japan) working for years on the association between the written word and reducing anger.

“We expected our method to reduce anger to some extent, but we were surprised that anger was almost completely eliminated,” Nobuyo Kawai, the study’s lead researcher, said in a statement reported by the Spanish news agency EFE.

Previous work has shown how interactions with objects can help control a person's mood, for example reducing the negative consequences of anger at work and in personal life. However, many emotion control techniques are not research-based and can be difficult to remember when we're angry, says EFE.

For the study, a group of volunteer doctoral students were asked to write brief opinions on important social issues, such as whether smoking should be banned in public places, and were told that their writing would be evaluated.

Regardless of what they wrote, all participants scored low on intelligence, caring, friendliness, logic, and rationality.

Furthermore, they were all subjected to the same insulting comment from reviewers: “I don't think an educated person thinks that way. I hope you learn something while you're in college.”

The disgruntled volunteers were then asked to write down their thoughts about the comments, focusing on what triggered their feelings. One group threw the paper away or kept it in a file, while another group shredded it in a shredder or put it in a box.

Then the volunteers rated their level of anger: in the case of those who threw or tore the paper, the irritation practically disappeared, but the rest recorded only a slight decrease in their level of anger.

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In addition to the practical benefits, this discovery may help explain the ultimate sense of relief experienced by participants in the annual Japanese Hakidahisara festival, held on the outskirts of Nagoya, during which people break small discs representing the things that are bothering them.