Political anger is ‘contagious’, new study finds


Rioters scale a wall at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 (Credit: CC photo via Flickr)

BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — Angry words by politicians might motivate some people to vote, according a new study by political scientists Carey Stapleton at the University of Colorado Boulder and Ryan Dawkins at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“Politicians want to get reelected, and anger is a powerful tool that they can use to make that happen,” said Carey Stapleton, PhD in political science. 

Anger expressed by politicians may cause some people to mirror the emotional rhetoric they see in the news, according to the study.

The study included approximately 1,400 people with differing political views. Participants that read about an angry politician from their own party were more likely to report feeling mad themselves than people who didn’t, study results showed.

“Anger is a very strong, short-term emotion that motivates people into action,” said Stapleton. “But there can be these much more negative implications in the long term. There’s always the potential that anger can turn into rage and violence.”

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