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FEAR - top emotion for middle-aged men

FEAR - top emotion for middle-aged men

What emotion might sit behind anger?

Even though they might not admit it, men feel emotions too: sad, glad, mad, scared; yet anger is the one emotion that is often deemed more socially acceptable. The media and society often project men who are angry as being powerful and more masculine, and men who express sadness as weak.

But anger can hide a more powerful emotion - fear! We all have a bias towards negativity, it's evolution's way of keeping us safe, and research shows that this bias increases in age, particularly in men. Creating what is often described as the 'grumpy' old man syndrome.

So men are being hit on two fronts:

  1. They have a bias towards negativity which gets stronger with age
  2. The media promotes anger (which is a hidden fear) as a positive attribute.

Edgar Henry Schein, a former professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, developed a model that illustrated how we can fall into perceptional traps. Here’s how it works…

Typically, when faced with a predicament, the human psyche follows a pattern:

  • We Observe and get a picture of what is going on
  • We React emotionally to our understanding of what’s happening
  • We Judge, and draw conclusions based on our understanding and how it makes us feel, and then ...
  • We Intervene, making decisions and taking action based on what we see, feel and conclude.

However each stage is potentially limiting and biased depending upon our own point of view:

  • We Observe what we want to see, thereby reinforcing our own belief systems and status
  • We React how we always react and we don’t apply emotional intelligence
  • We Judge, based on the rules we know rather than exploring new ones
  • We Intervene, making decisions and taking action based on our individual view of the world.

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