When bad emotions seem better: Experience changes the automatic evaluation of anger Academic Article uri icon


  • Evaluations of objects change as a function of our experience with them. We suggest that this also applies to the evaluation of emotions. In three studies, we show that the evaluation of anger changes as a function of direct experience with anger. We found that the experience of anger in a context in which it could be beneficial (i.e., an aggressive computer game) led people to perceive anger as more useful (Study 1). Moreover, people came to evaluate anger less negatively after experiencing anger in a context in which it could be beneficial. These changes did not result from the mere experience of anger or from exposure to an aggressive context (Study 2). Rather, the more anger improved their performance, the less negatively participants came to evaluate anger (Study 3). These findings suggest that how bad anger seems may depend on our direct experience with it.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015