Fear, anger, and risk

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2001 Jul;81(1):146-59. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.81.1.146.


Drawing on an appraisal-tendency framework (J. S. Lerner & D. Keltner, 2000), the authors predicted and found that fear and anger have opposite effects on risk perception. Whereas fearful people expressed pessimistic risk estimates and risk-averse choices, angry people expressed optimistic risk estimates and risk-seeking choices. These opposing patterns emerged for naturally occurring and experimentally induced fear and anger. Moreover, estimates of angry people more closely resembled those of happy people than those of fearful people. Consistent with predictions, appraisal tendencies accounted for these effects: Appraisals of certainty and control moderated and (in the case of control) mediated the emotion effects. As a complement to studies that link affective valence to judgment outcomes, the present studies highlight multiple benefits of studying specific emotions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anger*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Decision Making
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk
  • Risk-Taking*
  • United States