Study shows angry men gain influence and angry women lose influence


October 27, 2015

Anyone who knows the history of the jury trial or has seen the movie “12 Angry Men” is aware that U.S. juries were originally exclusively white and male. There have been many efforts toward making juries more diverse and representative of the population. Now that more women and racial minorities are represented on juries the question becomes: Do they have the same opportunity to exert influence over jury decisions as do white men.

In a word, no. A photograph of a courthouse A courthouse. A new study by an ASU professor shows that when women in a jury setting express anger their argument loses credence. When men express anger their argument gains credence. Download Full Image

A new study from Arizona State University focused on jury deliberation behaviors demonstrates a distinct gender bias when it comes to expressing anger and influencing people. The study found that men use anger to influence others, but women actually lose influence when they allow anger into an argument.

The research has implications beyond the courthouse deliberation room, according to ASU psychologist Jessica Salerno, co-author of the study “One angry woman: Anger expression increases influence for men, but decreases influence for women during group deliberation.” It was published in the journal Law and Human Behavior. Liana Peter-Hagene of the University of Illinois-Chicago is the other co-author.

“Our study suggests that women might not have the same opportunity for influence when they express anger,” Salerno said. “We found that when men expressed their opinion with anger, participants rated them as more credible, which made them less confident in their own opinion. But when women expressed identical arguments and anger, they were perceived as more emotional, which made participants more confident in their own opinion.

“This effect can’t be explained by women communicating anger less effectively or looking different when they express anger because we took all of that out of the equation,” Salerno explained. “The effect was due to participants thinking that anger came from a man versus a woman.”

The study featured 210 jury-eligible undergraduates who participated in a computer simulation in which they believed they were deliberating with five other participants. Each participant viewed a 17-minute presentation that was based on evidence from a real case in which a man was tried for murdering his wife. Participants read summaries of the opening and closing statements and eyewitness testimonies. They also viewed photographs of the crime scene and the alleged murder weapon.

To begin deliberation participants had a preliminary vote of guilty or not guilty. Each then exchanged a series of messages, purportedly with peers who also all had to agree as a group on whether or not to convict.

These exchanges were scripted in advance and in a very specific way — four of the fictional jurors agreed with the participant’s verdict and one disagreed. The lone hold out had a user name that was clearly male or female and the other names were gender neutral.

All participants read essentially the same arguments, but for some the points were made with anger, others were made in the spirit of fear and the rest were conveyed in an emotionally neutral tone. During the course of discussion, participants periodically answered questions about the extent to which they felt confident in their initial verdict. Afterwards they voted once more (only seven percent changed their minds).

“Participants confidence in their own verdict dropped significantly after male holdouts expressed anger,” the researchers stated. “Participants became significantly more confident in their original verdicts after female holdouts expressed anger, even though they were expressing the exact same opinion and emotion as the male holdouts.”

The influence effect was “evident in both male and female participants,” said Salerno, a member of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences in ASU's New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

“What is most disturbing about the findings is that they were produced by anger, specifically,” she said. “If you think about when we express anger, it is often when we really care about something, when we are most passionate and most convicted about a decision. Our results suggest that gender gaps in influence are most likely to materialize in these situations — when we are arguing for something we care about most.”

For Salerno the study has implications for women in a variety of settings.

“Our results have implications for any woman who is trying to exert influence on a decision in their workplace and everyday lives, including governing bodies, task forces and committees,” she said.

“The results from this study suggest that if female political candidates express their opinion with anger, during the debates for example, it is possible that they might have less influence than if they do not express anger,” Salerno explained. “This might explain why Bernie Sanders is able to freely express his passion and conviction, while Hilary Clinton clearly regulates her emotions more carefully.”

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October 27, 2015

ASU team taps into expertise of food 'citizen-scientists' as way to engage community in gathering knowledge

Valley newcomer Stacey Kuznetsov recently discovered a rather unconventional way to meet new people: fermented salsa parties.

“All my friends brought whatever ingredients they had in their homes, and we just blended everything and made fermented salsa,” she said.

The idea came from a transdisciplinary research project Kuznetsov, an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering at Arizona State University, conducted along with grad student Christina Santana and associate professor Elenore Long, both of ASU’s Department of English.

Their findings, which they wrote about in a paper titled “Mindful Persistence: Literacies for Taking up and Sustaining Fermented-Food Projects,” were published this month in Community Literacy Journal.

As the lead researcher for ASU’s Social and Digital Systems (SANDS) Group, Kuznetsov was interested in pursuing a project that looked at the phenomenon of so-called “citizen-scientists” or “DIY-biologists” — people who are not professional scientists but who experiment and gather knowledge based on their personal interests.

“I thought food was a really interesting domain for that,” she said, as nearly everyone can say they have played the role of “citizen-scientist” in the kitchen at least a few times.

“I think it’s a pushback against traditional top-down ways of disseminating scientific information.”
— assistant professor Stacey Kuznetsov

Santana saw Kuznetsov’s budding project as an opportunity to delve deeper into her area of interest in community literacy by engaging local community members in research that relied on their expertise.

“What drew me to Stacey’s project was that, here’s an opportunity to get outside of ASU and … be the bridge and bring people in and create opportunities for people to experience some of the things that only our students get,” said Santana.

Over the course of several months, they spent time recruiting, interviewing and workshopping with members of the local community who regularly engage in experimentation with edible materials.

They met people who make homemade beer, forage for grasses, ferment fruit and vegetables and even one woman who practices human placenta encapsulation as a dietary supplement for new mothers. And they were invited to participate in a group workshop where they would demonstrate and speak about their methods.

Community fermentation workshop

A piece of SCOBY culture
(symbiotic colony of bacteria
and yeast) is added to tea to
ferment it.

Photo courtesy Christina Santana

“They were teaching us the skills as opposed to us coming and observing something that is already well-understood,” Kuznetsov said. “To me, that’s an example of community literacy, where I’m studying the practices of a community that’s clearly a lot more expert in a domain than I am.”

Following the initial food demonstration workshop was a co-authoring workshop, wherein the community members shared their ideas about their work and helped draft portions of the research paper. It was also at this time that Long came on board to assist with the writing.

“We wrote in lots of different ways. We had questions and then filled up the whiteboards with responses. And then we took sticky notes and people just consolidated their own themes. … And then we developed sets of patterns across the sticky notes, and then people wrote sections in teams,” Long said.

The theme of persistence revealed itself to the researchers over the course of the project as they worked alongside and listened to the experiences of local fermented-food experts who live by the mantra, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

“The inquiry [into alternative food preservation] itself requires a kind of persistence because you’re constantly bumping up against things that you didn’t quite predict that in some ways trouble the project, but also make you a more expert person in doing that,” Long said.

Santana said the experience has given her an “access point” into a world she may otherwise never have known about.

“I think it’s helped me be less afraid of food. It sounds funny, but I’d never tried sauerkraut before, I would never have tried kombucha. … So I approach the kitchen differently in that I see potential or limit, and I think a little bit more about how I’m working with food,” she said, “but I still let my husband cook, mostly.”

Kuznetsov hopes their project will bring more attention to ways the community can be involved in research — “I think it’s a pushback against traditional top-down ways of disseminating scientific information” — and, “More sauerkraut!”

 

The School of Arts, Media and Engineering is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. The Department of English is a unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.