|M.Sc Student||Goren Roni|
|Subject||A Reappraisal of Reappraisal: The Effect of Emotion|
Regulation Strategy and Observed Anger Intensity
|Department||Department of Industrial Engineering and Management||Supervisor||Professor Ella Miron-Spektor|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
In a competitive and increasingly dynamic organizational world, creativity has become essential for organizational succeed and long term survival. Thus, practitioners and scholars are increasingly interested in factors that contribute to creative thinking. Of rising interest, is the impact of negative emotion on creativity in general, and the impact of anger in particular. The current study extends this line of research by examining how the intensity of the observed anger and the emotion regulation strategy applied by the observers affect their creativity.
The few studies that examined the effect of observing anger and aggression on problem solving revealed inconsistent findings. On the one hand, observing anger elicits a sense of threat which in turn hinders performance in complex and creative tasks. Others demonstrated that seeing other's rudeness impedes observers’ execution of complex problems, and showed that cognitive performances are harmed following an exposure to a verbal aggressive client. In a similar vein, people who were exposed to a disrespectful and unfair customer performed worse at work and felt negative emotions. On the other hand, others have claimed that exposure to other's anger can enhance problem resolution, negotiations' cooperation and compliance, and long-term relationships at work amongst employees.
The current study suggests that a possible explanation for these mixed findings has to do with the intensity of the observed anger and the emotion regulation strategy of the observer while witnessing the anger situation. Furthermore, although the intensity of observed anger was suggested as an important factor that may shape the effect of anger on the observes, the effect of observed anger intensity on observers' ability to solve problems was not examined. The current research bridges this gap in the literature by examining how emotion regulation strategies of the observers affect their ability to solve creative problems and by examining how the intensity of the observed anger affects this ability. We compared two well-studied emotion regulation strategies: reappraisal and distraction.
We suggest that observing intense anger will be more detrimental to creativity than observing mild anger, and that reappraising the observed anger is less detrimental to creativity than distracting one’s mind from the observed anger. Results of a laboratory experiment were somewhat supportive of our predictions. As we predicted, individuals who distracted their mind from the observed anger performed less creatively than individuals who reappraised the anger event, or did not regulate their emotions. Individuals who reappraised the observed anger were as creative as individuals in the control condition. In addition, intense observed anger harmed the observer's cognitive flexibility, an important dimension of creativity, more than mild observed anger. Thus, the main conclusions from the current study are that the intensity of observed anger limits cognitive flexibility and that distracting one’s mind from the anger sources, requires emotional and cognitive resources and may hinder creativity. Assuming that individuals can regulate their emotions and choose the most appropriate strategy, our findings suggest that in the face of others’ anger, individuals should try reappraise the anger rather than distract their mind from it.