Does bottling up your emotions make you more likely to be hostile? This article in clinically psyched proves just that. The study conducted by Todd Maddox, Kathleen Vohs and Brian Glass was collaborative research done at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Minnesota. It was done in order to find ways for people in stressful professions cope better from long hours on the job. Subjects ranged from regular college students to those in military academies. (abstract)
Two films “The Meaning of Life” and “Trainspotting” were the material. Two focus groups were observationally studied. One was asked to show no emotions during a sequence of violent scenes and another could react normally. There was an additional coefficient in the mix being a group kept up for 24 hours to see if exhaustion would amplify hostility. If you are familiar with either or both movies you know how grotesque some of the actions are and how you reacted the first time you saw them.
The study found that the subjects who were not allowed to react during the scenes were more aggressive after the test. The “ego depletion effect” was proved to be supported from this study as it was found that those “who keep their emotions bottled up” are more likely to turn around and act out of turn later on. Additionally it was found exhaustion does not increase hostility. I think it is interesting that as a society we are expected to keep aggressive feelings in and are then expected to not overreact under any circumstance.
The subjects were all place in a hypothetical computerized competition where they could blast there supposed opponent with noise. Those who could not react used this time to let loose and had higher average noise levels.