The Recalibrational Theory Of Anger: What It Is And How It Explains Anger

The Recalibrational Theory of Anger

If we asked anyone why anger arises, they would most likely tell us that it is the result of frustration. When something does not go as expected or we are told something ugly, it is normal to react with emotional tension, one of the many responses being the emotion of anger.

However, there are those who consider that, taking an evolutionary perspective, anger would be an emotion whose function is to motivate us in a negotiation or conflict, mobilizing us to avoid any loss or promote gains in a social context.

The recalibration theory of anger It is a model that has tried to explain what the functionality of this emotion would be. Let’s see what it consists of.

What is the Recalibrational Theory of Anger?

The recalibration theory of anger is a proposal that explains how natural selection has shaped this emotion in such a way that it helps us receive better treatment from others

Although it is a relatively recent theory, it is still necessary to address it in greater depth with scientific research, this conceptualization of the purpose of anger would allow it to give it meaning since this emotion is responsible for a large part of human aggressive acts. Why behave? aggressively if not to prevent our rights from being trampled?

Based on this idea, it has been proposed that anger acts as a behavioral regulatory program. The recalibrational theory of anger is a computational evolutionary model, a proposal expanded by Sell that maintains that the function of this emotion is, precisely, to socially recalibrate individuals who are not taken into account or not enough

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So that we understand each other: anger would serve to ensure that those individuals who are being excluded from their group and rights are being belittled, to assert themselves, to mobilize, avoiding continuing to be trampled on. Anger causes them to take action.

What is anger according to this model?

In the recalibration theory of anger, the idea is that this emotion is as universal as the others. Anger appears spontaneously during childhood and manifests itself in more or less similar ways from culture to culture It is something that is a product of our biology, with a neurobiological substrate behind it that has been shaped by years and years of evolution.

Starting from this conceptualization, the hypothesis is raised that this emotion has been evolving in our species, mainly focused on functioning in contexts of negotiation and conflict. His appearance would be to make the angry person mobilize, in such a way as to tip the balance of interests and benefits in a conflict situation The angrier one is, the more one’s rights prevail over others and the more benefits one extracts from it.

Usefulness of anger

Anger Tactics

The recalibration theory of anger maintains that an entire computationally complex cognitive system has been organized around this human emotion that, as we have commented, evolved focused on situations of conflict and negotiation

When we feel anger we exhibit specific facial expressions, an altered tone of voice, we use defensive and offensive verbal arguments (for example, insults) and, of course, we can carry out physical attacks. All these cognitive and physiological actions They are intended to ensure that the negotiation during the course of a conflict ends up benefiting us

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The two tactics that anger makes us try to carry out in conflict situations are:

1. Inflict costs and withhold benefits

One of the tactics we apply when we feel angry is to inflict costs and withhold benefits. In other words, when we feel anger we are more likely to hurt other people, in order to intimidate them or respond aggressively to the offensives that they have made to us first

This emotion also makes us defend ourselves, protecting those things that we want to preserve, whether on a psychological, social or physical level. Individuals with better capacities to inflict costs, that is, to do harm, are socially perceived as stronger.

2. Provide benefits

The other tactic related to anger does not manifest itself when we are immersed in this emotion, but when another individual is angry.

Human beings tend to give more benefits to people who are aggressive, since it is interpreted that they are more capable of defending their interests. The most angry people are also seen as people who are best not to anger, which is why one is more likely to grant the benefits he seeks.

Anger, well-being and negotiation

In every gregarious species, the actions carried out by one of its individuals end up affecting the well-being of the others, for better or worse. According to recalibration theory, When the anger program detects that other individuals in the reference group are not putting enough weight on one’s well-being, anger is triggered

According to the assumptions of the recalibration theory of anger, individuals with better abilities to inflict costs (harm) and withhold benefits, and who, consequently, are also more likely to gain advantages over others, are those who tend to become angry with others. more ease. Whether because it is in their genetic code or because they have learned that by getting angry they obtain certain benefits, their mood tends towards irascibility, seeing that it works for them.

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In turn, from an evolutionary perspective this would have two reasons. The first would be that their greater ability to withdraw benefits or inflict costs translates into greater influence in negotiating conflicts of interest. This means that They are more likely to be successful with their anger compared to those who have less influence

The second reason is that their greater influence makes them expect that others will care more about their well-being. The greater the ratio of well-being compensation that a subject expects from others, the greater the set of well-being compensations that the anger system will process as unacceptable. In other words, when one expects others to pay attention to him or her, the shorter his or her fuse will be in the face of social situations that he or she perceives as an attack on his or her individual desires.