Sunday, May 4, 2008

Anger In The Age of Enlightenment: Why We’re Vulnerable to Emotional Pollution

By Steven Stosny in Anger in the Age of Entitlement

All animals, including humans, use emotional displays to interact with one another. Aggression is the most dramatic example. Dogs growl, cats arch their backs, snakes hiss, horses stand up and wave their front legs menacingly, bulls kick sand, apes beat their chests, and humans puff up their muscles. (Early humans use to roar, which is why you talk in a more menacing voice when angry and want to scream in traffic.) There are just as obvious though less dramatic gestures of courtship, affiliation, playfulness, and interest in humans and other social animals.

More recent observations suggest that all social animals, including humans, put out much more subtle emotional signals as well -- most of which are outside conscious awareness -- and that these, too, affect how we interact with one another. Like all social animals, we can pretty much feel when someone is putting out positive or negative emotional energy, even if he or she makes no overt behavioral indication. Although we can't tell what they're thinking, we can read the emotional tone of most people -- whether they are quiet or whether they are shouting -- with a fair degree of accuracy.

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