Feeling angry this political season? Here's why

Published: Oct. 21, 2018 at 10:10 PM CDT
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With less than a month until Election Day, voters are being inundated with political ads from their mail boxes to their Facebook feed; in some cases, generating a sense of anger.

“It's actually in a politician's best interest to try to make you angry because you're more likely to click on that, you're more likely to support them, you're more likely to go to the polls and so on,” said Dr. Ryan Martin, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay.

He’s an anger researcher and studies what makes people angry and how they express it, especially on social media.

His blog,

explores the science of anger and violence.

“There’s a lot of things about social media that exacerbate anger,” said Dr. Martin. “The fact that you’re… often socially distanced from the person who you’re angry at; that means you can’t see their facial expression when you make comments, you can’t see how they are responding to what you’re saying, it makes it easier to say hurtful things. I think that’s a big piece of it.”

Dr. Martin also says social media has become a tool for politicians to move forward their agenda, but it's often catered to the user.

“I also think that the algorithms that a lot of social media platforms use to feed people information, they tend to exacerbate that selective attention because you're being fed information that is consistent with what you believe.”

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Politics by Timothy Ryan revealed, anger is a tool politicians use in political ads to get people to click and vote for a particular candidate.

“I think it’s fair to say that in a lot of cases, the candidate who can create the most anger among their people are more likely to see a positive outcome,” said Dr. Martin.

Voters we spoke with say they are not necessarily angry at the political climate, but frustrated.

“A little frustrated with the way things are going, I think I'm the most frustrated that people don't vote,” said Ann Sederquist.

But others are just happy to have the right to vote.

“I'm not worried democrat or republican, whatever you vote, I think whatever the outcome is, it's fair,” said Ian Frederickson, a freshman at UW-GB.

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