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What Is the Multidimensional Anger Test Spreading on TikTok? | by heidi


 


People are increasingly looking to social media to understand their mental health and muddle through feelings of sadness and loneliness. Now, TikTok users are turning to the “Multidimensional Anger Test” as a new way to understand a different emotion: anger.



A quick search of #AngerTest on TikTok will likely show you hundreds of videos of users sharing their test results. The Multidimensional Anger Test comes from IDRLabs—a site providing different individual personality assessment tests—and consists of 38 questions that ask you to reflect on your experiences with anger. It’s meant to test your susceptibility to the feeling.


But there’s no guarantee that the test is going to be “accurate” for you. It can, however, help you reflect on your own experiences, Rachel Harlich, LMSW, a psychotherapist based in Brooklyn, New York, told Verywell.


Specifically for herself as a trauma therapist, Harlich said, she thinks the test can act as a point on a path toward self-knowledge. For example, upon seeing your results, she would encourage you to ask, “What have I experienced in my life to be angry about?” The test can spark reflection, and become more than a set-in-stone character description.



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The test can also help us reflect on the purpose of anger itself. Aaron Sell, PhD, professor of psychology & criminology at Heidelberg University in Ohio, told Verywell that anger has evolved to help us communicate, recalibrate boundaries, and solve problems.



What Is the Multidimensional Anger Test?

The test evaluates five “dimensions” of the emotion:


Anger Arousal: Frequency, magnitude, and duration of angry responses

Anger Spectrum: The range of situations likely to trigger an angry response

Hostile Outlook: How cynically/suspiciously one views the world

External Anger: Tendency to “take anger out” on external surroundings

Internal Anger: Tendency to internalize anger and/or not share it openly




The site says the test is based on psychologist Judith Siegel’s Multidimensional Anger Inventory (MAI), which was developed in 1986.1 Because researchers have thought anger and hostility might be linked to high blood pressure and coronary heart disease, MAI has also been used to evaluate certain health risks.2



At the same time, Sell added, there are many other ways experts evaluate anger. But because this TikTok-popularized test relies on self-reporting it should not be used for diagnostic purposes.


So even though IDRLabs’s tests claim to be “based on peer-reviewed scientific research,” that should be taken with a grain of salt. If anything, Harlich added, the quizzes should be taken for fun and personal reflection.



Anger Does Not Equal Aggression

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anger as “an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.” Even though everyone feels anger at some point, it sometimes gets a bad reputation.


Calls to “control anger before it controls you,” as well as the idea of “anger management,” can warp our understanding of the emotion’s evolutionary purpose, Sell said, which is to encourage us to communicate with others and find solutions to problems.


Harlich agreed. Anger “is a very stigmatized emotion,” she said. “But sometimes it can be mobilizing in a way that’s helpful. Sometimes anger can tell us where our boundaries are, where we wouldn’t have known otherwise, and that somebody has crossed or violated them.”


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Sell’s work in evolutionary psychology helped him develop the recalibration theory of anger, which argues that anger arises to help us readjust, or recalibrate, agreements, and boundaries. This “recalibration” does not always have to come out as aggression.


Still, when anger goes unregulated, it can certainly lead to aggression, Sell added, and even turn into hatred.


Health experts have also suggested that frequent feelings of anger and hostility may increase one’s risk for cardiovascular disease. Recent research suggests that distress tolerance, or one’s ability to manage stressful emotions, moderates the relationship between anger and blood pressure.3

But the jury is still out on the connection between anger and cardiovascular disease, precisely because emotions like anger are so difficult to reliably measure.4


What This Means For You

Anger is not the same as aggression. It can also be a helpful emotion that guides us in expressing feelings, finding solutions to problems, and even feeling closer to others who we work through anger with. However, it’s not always easy to tolerate or talk about angry feelings. Reaching out to a psychotherapist can help you process anger, think about it in new ways, and develop strategies to work with it in the future.


Making Anger Work for Good

Harlich said that before anyone mistakes the anger test as a genuine character description, they could start by asking questions. “When I think of all the potential reasons why somebody might be angry, I think, ‘How did they get to be angry? What are they angry about? If they are angry more of the time of other people, why is that potentially the case?’”


Working through these kinds of questions in therapy, Harlich added, can be very healing. Maybe in past relationships, her client wasn’t allowed to be angry or feared losing a relationship if they expressed anger. “Being in session and able to feel anger, and having the therapist accept that anger, can be a ‘corrective emotional experience,’” she said.


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Working through tough discussions that involve anger, Sell added, can also help you end up feeling closer to the person you originally felt angry with.


“People like to point out that they’re irrational when they’re angry, but they’re actually not in all ways,” Sell said, partly because it opens the lines of communication.


“The most common thing people do when they’re angry is rapidly communicate, respond to apologies, and respond to the arguments the other person makes,” he said. The important next step, then, is learning how to have an argument.

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