Others' Anger Makes People Work Harder Not Smarter: The Effect of Observing Anger and Sarcasm on Creative and Analytic Thinking

Ella Miron-Spektor, Dorit Efrat-Treister, Anat Rafaeli, Orit Schwarz-Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

The authors examine whether and how observing anger influences thinking processes and problem-solving ability. In 3 studies, the authors show that participants who listened to an angry customer were more successful in solving analytic problems, but less successful in solving creative problems compared with participants who listened to an emotionally neutral customer. In Studies 2 and 3, the authors further show that observing anger communicated through sarcasm enhances complex thinking and solving of creative problems. Prevention orientation is argued to be the latent variable that mediated the effect of observing anger on complex thinking. The present findings help reconcile inconsistent findings in previous research, promote theory about the effects of observing anger and sarcasm, and contribute to understanding the effects of anger in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1065-1075
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume96
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Anger
  • Cognitive complexity
  • Creativity
  • Prevention orientation
  • Sarcasm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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