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Anger Expression in Organizations: Insights from Social Neuroscience

  • Esthelle Ewusi Boisvert
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Part of the Advances in Neuroethics book series (AIN)

Abstract

Anger is a common emotional response to perceived provocation by another person or entity. It can emerge from feelings of frustration and manifest itself episodically or chronically. Multiple brain areas are linked to the subjective experience and expression of anger, including the amygdala-hypothalamus-periaqueductal gray system, the frontal cortices, as well as the anterior cingulate cortices. Despite its frequent negative portrayal, and general view that it can cause serious impairment, anger remains a social emotion, which can serve adaptive purposes in organizational settings. Specifically, researchers in organizational behavior have recently focused on the benefits of moral anger (i.e., when anger arises from feelings of moral violations and actions to rectify the situation ensue) in optimizing organizational functioning. The following chapter examines anger in three parts: (1) defining anger and theoretical models of anger expression; (2) the positive and negative effects of anger expression in the workplace; and (3) ways in which anger can be used constructively in organizations. The overarching aim is to examine the construct of anger in an organizational context and to present evidence from research in organizational behavior, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience that supports the idea that anger, especially moral anger, expression in the workplace can lead to better individual and collective behaviors and serve to maintain ethical organizational practices.

Keywords

Anger Workplace Moral anger Organizations Neuroscience 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This chapter benefited significantly from the insights and comments from Tovah Cowan, B.Sc.; Julia Pinheiro Carvalho, B.Sc.; and Lydia Risi, B.A., as well as editors Drs. Joé T. Martineau and Eric Racine. I thank them for their tremendous help.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esthelle Ewusi Boisvert
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ResearcherMontrealCanada

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