The Weekly Vent: The Rationality of Rage

Well, well, well — it turns out that a certain amount of rage, in specific situations, is strategically useful. Rational, in fact, according to The New York Times: The Rationality of Rage.

We tend to associate anger with the loss of control, but anger has clear applications and obeys distinct rules. It may be blunt, but it has its own particular logic. And used judiciously, it can get us better deals, galvanize coalitions and improve all our lives.

The situations where anger is most useful as a strategy are “balanced”, i.e. they have elements of both cooperation and competition, such as selling a business to a buyer. Makes sense to me but I’m not so sure about this part:

… anger evolved to help us express that we feel undervalued. Showing anger signals to others that if we don’t get our due, we’ll exert harm or withhold benefits. As they anticipated, the researchers found that strong men and attractive women — those who have historically had the most leverage in threatening harm and conferring benefits, respectively — were most prone to anger.

Wow. Strong men and attractive women have the most leverage because they can threaten harm and withhold benefits. Sounds like war, money and sex to me. I guess we really are still primates at heart!

Illustration: Gerard DuBois, in The New York Times.