While it may feel cathartic, venting anger doesn’t purge aggression from your system or improve psychological state. In fact, it’s more likely to increase anger and aggressiveness. The theory on which the idea of venting is based has been repeatedly disproved since the 1950s, but the venting myth remains.
Venting may make you feel great when you’re angry, but it doesn’t help you act great. Contrary to popular myth, venting anger has no real value to you at all. Say it with me now: Venting has no value and is a good habit to avoid.
But don’t take just my word for it. Let’s hear what one of the top social psychology researchers in the world has to say about venting, anger, and aggression. In the following 30-minute audio, Dr. Brad Bushman graciously addresses questions I commonly field from clients and audiences, like these:
- Where did we get the idea that catharsis is beneficial?
- Why do people persist in believing in the benefit of venting?
- What’s the difference between venting and the reasonable expression of emotion?
- How are catharsis, venting, rumination, anger, and aggression related?
- When is physical activity helpful for calming anger–and when is it not?
- Instead of venting, what can you do that really does work to calm yourself down?
- What one simple thing can you do to avoid being “hangry”?
Tammy Lenski interviews Dr. Brad Bushman
The real message anger is trying to deliver
During conflict, focusing mostly on anger’s behavior instead of on anger’s real message is like burying the lede in a news story.Read the article