Arne Hjorth Johansen / CC BY-SA 2.0

Anger is the key to a good negotiation, according to a series of Wharton studies that have yet to be published. These four studies suggest that the emotion, when used correctly, can be a motivating catalyst for productive change. 

The studies found that, when given a choice, people opted to increase their anger more often when they anticipated taking part in a negotiation or competition than when they anticipated engaging in a conversation or playing on a team.

Wharton professor Maurice Schweitzer has previously conducted research with Wharton professor Jeremy Yip on anger and deception in the workplace and how trash-talking influences performance. Schweitzer has also studied the effects of happiness on overall well-being. 

“People intuitively chose to become angry,” Schweitzer said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “They believed they would become more effective competitors."

In three of the studies, half of the participants were told they would be negotiating and the other half were told they would be having a regular conversation. In the fourth study, half of the participants were told they would play a video game against an opponent and the other half were told they would play a computer game with a teammate. Then, the participants were asked to choose between watching a video of a character being harassed and a video of stand-up comedy. 

Overall, participants who were expecting to negotiate or compete against someone chose to watch the video of a character being harassed more often than did participants who anticipated engaging in a normal conversation or playing a game with a partner. 

These studies further the research conducted by Maya Tamir, a psychology professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Tamir found that listening to heavy metal music before playing an aggressive video game can increase performance. Her recent research, according to the WSJ, demonstrates that participants who believed that anger could increase their performance in competitive tasks exhibited better results. 

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