Science Daily, reporting on a U-Michigan press release, May 12: “Most people don’t appreciate an angry look, but a new University of Michigan psychology study found that some people find angry expressions so rewarding that they will readily learn ways to encourage them…
“It’s kind of striking that an angry facial expression is consciously valued as a very negative signal by almost everyone, yet at a non-conscious level can be like a tasty morsel that some people will vigorously work for,” said Oliver Schultheiss, co-author of the study and a U-M associate professor of psychology.
The findings may explain why some people like to tease each other so much, he added. “Perhaps teasers are reinforced by that fleeting ‘annoyed look’ on someone else’s face and therefore will continue to heckle that person to get that look again and again,” he said. “As long as it does not stay there for long, it’s not perceived as a threat, but as a reward.”
The researchers took saliva samples from participants to measure testosterone, a hormone that has been associated with dominance motivation….” <more>
Very interesting. I wonder if we’ll ever get to a sophisticated understanding of the biology behind cooperation. If your hormones make you empathetic or confrontational, what does that imply about “right” or “wrong”? Is it appropriate to attempt to affect your negotiation style through medication? Maybe some day we’ll devise perfumes that negotiators can put into the meeting room to urge collaboration.