An article in the WSJ cited multiple studies claiming that humans will choose to be angry before committing to a competitive environment. In one study participants were told that they would be negotiating or playing a video game and asked if they would prefer to watch Robin Williams perform a stand up routine or watch a scene where a witness is harassed ahead of the challenge. Most chose the upsetting clip, which the study argues is used as a primer. “People intuitively chose to become angry.”
In another study participants listened to either heavy metal or calming music before being asked to perform a task. They were then asked to either negotiate with another person for money or play a violent video game.
“The results for both studies were similar: The angry participants who listened to the heavy-metal music performed better: They made more money in the negotiation or killed more enemies in the computer game—but only when they expected their anger to boost or help them. ‘Our expectations make us behave in ways that ultimately influence the outcome,’ says Dr. Tamir. If we believe our anger will help us win an argument, we are likely to be more confident and assertive. ‘It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.'”