Here’s Why People Yell During Arguments

Research shows that people compensate by being loud when they are overconfident in their beliefs but underconfident about being heard, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In a study reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2017, participants were reportedly asked survey items such as who: (1) had more friends, (2) was part of more social circles, and (3) had a wider social network [themselves or other people]. Participants of the study who were decidedly underconfident about these social items have, however, displayed overconfidence on several nonsocial items (e.g. having larger vocabularies than other people).

Meanwhile, participants in another published study were reportedly asked to predict how difficult it would be to get others to comply with their requests. They later found out that convincing both friends and strangers to agree to do an annoying and tedious task (such as counting beans in a jar) was easier than they expected.

Social psychologist and associate professor at Cornell University Dr. Vanessa Bohns says that combining these findings together “create a perfect storm that leads to shouting.” She wrote: “Believing ourselves to be more moral and less biased than other people makes us overconfident in the things we believe. At the same time, assuming that others are not paying attention to us and not listening to what we have to say makes us underconfident in our ability to get our opinions out there and convince others of them.”

In other words, we shout because we feel as if we are shouting into the void,” Dr. Bohns emphasized. “We shout because we don’t think people will listen to us otherwise. As a result, we are overly assertive when trying to get our message out there, despite the fact that our arguments, advice, and appeals would actually be more effective if we made them a little gentler.

The author also explained how using overly assertive language to overcompensate for our lack of confidence is ironically an ineffective way to persuade other people. Read Dr. Bohns’s full article on The Wall Street Journal here.

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