New York: Do you know why you find yourself at the receiving end when faced with an angry boss, teacher or parent? Not because of the anger, but the other's facial expression. An angry expression seems to boost the effectiveness of threats without actual aggression, a new research indicates.
An angry expression lends additional weight to a negotiator's threat to walk away from the table if his or her demands are not met. It leads the other party in the negotiation to offer more concessions than they otherwise would have, researchers said.
Our facial expressions are relatively more difficult to control than our words.
"Because they are harder to control, these expressions serve as a believable outward indication of a person's motivations," explained psychological scientist Lawrence Ian Reed from New York-based Stony Brook University.
"In this way, facial expressions can carry the weight of our words," Reed noted.
To prove their point, Reed and colleagues hypothesised that angry expressions may lend this credibility, helping to back up negotiators' threats to walk away from the table if they do not receive what they want.
But, they hypothesised, expressions of anger would not lend additional credibility to demands that already seem fair.
In a study conducted online on 870 participants, the data revealed that the responder's facial expression did have an impact on the amount offered by the proposer, but only when the responder demanded the larger share.
Facial expression had no influence on proposers' offers when the responder demanded an equal share, presumably because the demand was already viewed as credible.
"The study is right even in circumstances like buying a car or house and/or disciplining students or children," researchers noted in the research published in the journal Psychological Science.