Our Brains Want to Control Anger and Aggression

In a new study researchers found that when insulted to the point of anger, we humans experience activation in the areas of the brain associated with negative emotions and arousal (the limbic brain) but that at the same time, healthy brains experience similar arousal in the parts of the frontal lobes that regulate emotion and provide cognitive control over reactions.  Thus there is  tension and interplay between our urge to let the anger rip, and our thinking brain’s wish to remain in control.

This provides cues  for conflict resolution professionals about how to help our clients recognize and manage anger and other negative emotions during negotiations.  In later posts we’ll direct you to research and writing about techniques for quieting the aroused limbic brain and for helping the cognitive brain in its efforts to calm the storm.

The study is:

“Self Control and Aggression”

Denson, T. F., Dewall, C., Finkle, E. Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol. 21 (1), February 2012, 20-25
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