If you want to make an impact at work, never lose your cool - if you’re a woman, that is. For researchers have found that while men who express anger have a strong influence over their peers, the opposite is true for women.

In a mock jury-deliberation task involving 210 participants, jurors became much less confident in their own verdicts if one of the other male jurors got angry while expressing a differing opinion. But if a female juror expressed anger she lost influence and the others became significantly more confident in their own verdicts - even though the angry woman was expressing the same opinion and emotion as the angry man. 

Rather than being respected, the angry women were dismissed as being overly emotional, said the study published in the journal Law and Human Behavior. The study suggests that ‘expressing anger might lead men to gain influence, but women to lose influence over others’, said the team from Arizona State University. They added: ‘People drew different inferences about female versus male anger, which affected how participants viewed their own opinion.

‘When women expressed anger they were perceived as more emotional, which made people more confident in their own opinion.’ 

For the study, participants were told they would be put into groups of six jurors, with whom they would deliberate online. The experiment began with the participants each reading, on a computer screen, a 17-minute presentation of a murder trial, based on a real case. Written descriptions of the opening and closing statements, and testimony from witnesses and experts were provided. Next, each participant was asked to give a preliminary verdict of guilty or not guilty, before beginning their online interactions with what they thought were five other jurors trying to reach their own verdicts.