Do you have a tested and true strategy for getting your way? Say you’re in a heated discussion with your boyfriend or you’re talking a possible raise with your boss. In any regard, someone is going to come up with the short stick. And you want to do what you can to ensure that’s not you. So, what’s your approach? If you’re like me—an introvert who avoids confrontation at all costs—you probably don’t have one. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use one. According to new research, it’ll pay off to bring a little intensity. Key word being little.

While large-scale displays of anger likely won’t work in your favor, moderate displays of anger will, according to new research. This study “Everything in moderation: The social effects of anger depend on its perceived intensity,” which will be published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in May of 2018, explored the effects of increasing anger intensity during negotiations and ultimately found that moderately intense anger equals greater payback.

The authors detail these findings in their paper: “Moderate-intensity anger led to larger concessions than no anger because the anger expresser was perceived as tough, and high-intensity anger led to smaller concessions than moderate-intensity anger because the anger expression was perceived as inappropriate. Furthermore, expressing anger, and, in particular, high-intensity anger, reduced anger perceivers’ subjective value outcomes in the form of negative feelings about the relationship.”

In sum, it’s important to find the proper balance of anger display when making a negotiation with someone. You don’t want to come across too harsh, but you do want to be perceived as a little tough. The researchers reached these findings after conducting two different experiments. In the first, they analyzed 226 undergraduates from the United States—88 being male, and 138 female, with an average age of 21—who negotiated with one another about a student project. In the second, 170 participants—79 being male, 90 female, and one unspecified, with an average age of 37—partook in online negotiations on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk website; the subject was mobile phone sales.

The researchers instructed negotiators to express more or less anger during their conversations. For instance, they were given slightly different versions of the same statement to convey low, medium, and high levels of intensity: “This negotiation is starting to make me a bit upset,” “This negotiation makes me upset,” and “This negotiation makes me totally upset!” as reported by NeuroscienceNews. As a result, they were able to observe that as anger intensity increased, concessions did as well—that is, until a certain point where it appeared to be too much. The concessions then began to decrease.

The researchers expressed an interest in exploring other important emotions and how the intensity of their expression might affect our interactions with people as well: “It would be interesting to explore the influence of intensity with respect to emotions that are common in negotiations besides anger, such as happiness, disappointment, or pride, to develop a more thorough understanding of how intensity levels influence the social effects of emotions.”

Rice University (2018, March 17). A Little Anger in Negotiations Pays. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved March 17, 2018 from

Adam, H., Brett, J. M. (2018, May). Everything in moderation: The social effects of anger depend on its perceived intensity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Retrieved March 19, 2018 from