A series of studies, particularly those of Zillmann, has examined the possibility that physiological arousal from different sources may combine to enhance whatever emotional experience might occur in a given situation (Anderson & Anderson, 1998; Berkowitz & Harmon-Jones, 2004; Schachter, 1971; Zillmann, 1979). The main findings of this research are as follows:
1 Arousal from another source may only influence the individual experience of anger when anger has been independently provoked, although there is continuing controversy over this claim. For example, Konecni (1975) found that auditory stimulation that increased arousal had little effect on anger-related behaviour unless the participant had been insulted and reported themselves to be angry. However, researchers such as Anderson and Anderson (1998) who have studied the effects of uncomfortable heat, Fernandez and Turk (1995) on the effects of pain, and Berkowitz (e.g., Berkowitz & Harmon-Jones, 2004) on the effects of cold, have all argued for a direct physiological route to anger and aggression.
2 The "transfer" of extraneous arousal, to quote Zillmann's phrase (e.g., 1971), to enhance the experience of anger is strongest when the individual is unaware of the source of the extraneous arousal and misattributes it to the event that has instigated the anger. For example, Zillmann, Johnson, and Day (1974) showed that the participants who could attribute their arousal to exercise showed little or no increases in anger-related behaviour, whereas participants who were unable to make such an attribution showed good "transfer of arousal" and a subsequent increase in the experience of anger.
3 Even if participants do make the connection between an extraneous stimulus and the resultant arousal, the nature of the stimulus may still influence the development of an anger episode. For example, Geen and Stonner (1974) induced physiological arousal in their participants by showing them a boxing match on film. The participants were informed that the fighting was motivated either by (a) a desire for revenge, (b) by professionalism, or (c) by altruism. The participants who had been informed that the fight was motivated by revenge (that is, an action-potential associated with anger) showed the most anger-related behaviour. In sum, if the arousing event is itself irritating, causes the person to contemplate perceived wrongs or slights, or suggests that revenge or retaliation is in some way appropriate, then the experience of anger may be enhanced. In contrast if the arousing event is pleasant, or induces any incompatible response tendencies, then the experience of anger may be reduced.
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