Magazine article USA TODAY

Cut Anger Quotient with "Self-Distancing"

Magazine article USA TODAY

Cut Anger Quotient with "Self-Distancing"

Article excerpt

There is a simple strategy that people can use to minimize how angry and aggressive they get when they are provoked by others, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. When someone makes you angry, try to pretend you are viewing the scene at a distance--in other words, you are an observer rather than a participant in this stressful situation. Then, from that distanced perspective, try to understand your feelings. Researchers call this strategy "self-distancing."

"The secret is to not get immersed in your own anger; instead, have a more detached view," explains psychologist Dominik Mischkowski, lead author of the research. "You have to see yourself in this stressful situation as a fly on the wall would see it."

While other studies have examined the value of self-distancing for calming angry feelings, this is the first to show that it can work in the heat of the moment, when people are most likely to act aggressively The worst thing to do in an anger-inducing situation is what people normally do: try to focus on their hurt and angry feelings to understand them, relates Brad Bushman, coauthor of the study. …

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