Getting Angry: How Rage Fuels Political & Social Movements

Jan 21, 2016

A recent poll by NBC News/Survey Monkey/Esquire finds that "49 percent of Americans say they're angry more often than they used to be over current events and the news."

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe sits down with a panel of guests to explore the question - is the U.S. becoming an angrier society?

Emily Wentzell, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Iowa, says that people report feelings of anger when they feel threatened, and right now, many people feel their way of life is endangered.

"We're just coming off a really horrible economic crisis, and we have this recovery that we're calling a jobless recovery," she says. "I think you have a lot of fear and insecurity related to that, and a lot of suffering that causes anger."

Wentzell points out how increased discussion of social problems can generate anger as well, which can be detrimental, but also can be a productive and healthy thing. She references the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I also think we're at a time in our country where civil rights struggles are coming back to the forefront of discourse, and that can be very threatening to people who are invested in the status quo, who don't want to think of themselves as supporting a racist system or society."

Also joining the conversation are Doug Gentile, an associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University, and Chris Larimer, a political analyst from the University of Northern Iowa, who discusses anger's influence on the 2016 presidential election.