彭蒙惠英语：20110125 MP3在线课程 Is TV Causing Our Reactions to Boil Over?
A lost virtue?
Staying calm under pressure used to be considered a virtue, but Obama's unflappable demeanor has become a public relations debate. When Gen. Stanley McChrystal criticized the Obama administration in Rolling Stone magazine, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs even made a point of telling reporters the president was angry.
But why this need to see angry displays?
"At some level, banging on a table or being excessively angry is not going to solve the problem," says Scott Schieman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, Canada. "But there's definitely research that suggests when people display anger and it's perceived as appropriate, the person is perceived as more competent and more in charge."
Schieman's newest research on anger found that the well-educated are less likely to experience anger, and when they do, they are more likely to act proactively and try to change the situation.
Understanding the difference
There is an audience for overreactive responses, says Michael Nichols, a psychology professor at The College of William & Mary in Virginia, and author of The Lost Art of Listening.
"I may be a meek person in my own life. People may push me around. I may wish I could fight back and don't. Yet I can listen to a blowhard denounce this person and I can enjoy that vicariously," he says.
"There's a difference between being emotional, which means being reactive, vs. taking a strong stance, which means taking a forceful yet considered position," Nichols says.
These subtleties are examined in a new book called Stop Overreacting, by Judith Siegel, an associate professor of social work at New York University.
"An overreaction is about emotions that are bigger than the immediate situation calls for," she says. "You may be releasing a lot of frustration, but your response is far greater than what is justified."
And that means you may do something you'll have to apologize for later.