Will Smith and Ryan Martin? Prof. is quoted in The Atlantic

Media from around the world contact UW-Green Bay Prof. and Associate Dean Ryan Martin (CAHSS) about anger issues. We shouldn’t be surprised that he was contacted in the wake of the “Will Smith slap.” The Atlantic tries to get at, “Why People Are Acting So Weird.”

…”Everyone is acting so weird! The most obvious recent weirdness was when Will Smith smacked Chris Rock at the Oscars. But if you look closely, people have been behaving badly on smaller stages for months now. Last week, a man was arrested after he punched a gate agent at the Atlanta airport. (The gate agent looked like he was about to punch back, until his female colleague, bless her soul, stood on some chairs and said “no” to the entire situation.) That wasn’t even the only viral asshole-on-a-plane video that week.

In February, people found ways to throw tantrums while skiing—skiing. In one viral video, a man slid around the chairlift-boarding area of a Canadian resort, one foot strapped into his snowboard as he flailed at security guards and refused to comply with a mask mandate. Separate footage shows a maskless man on a ski shuttle screaming, “There’s nobody wearing masks on any bus in this goddamn town!” before calling his fellow passenger a “liberal piece of shit” and storming off.

…The pandemic has created a lot of “high-stress, low-reward” situations, said Keith Humphreys, a psychiatry professor at Stanford, and now everyone is teetering slightly closer to their breaking point. Someone who may have lost a job, a loved one, or a friend to the pandemic might be pushed over the edge by an innocuous request.

“When someone has that angry feeling, it’s because of a combination of some sort of provocation, their mood at the time of that provocation, and then how they interpret that provocation,” said Ryan Martin, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay who studies anger. Not only are people encountering more “provocations”—staffing shortages, mask mandates—but also their mood is worse when provoked. “Americans don’t really like each other very much right now,” he added.

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