Because angry people apparently rely on heuristic cues when making judgments, anger has been claimed to trigger superficial, nonanalytic information processing. In three studies, the authors found that induced anger promoted analytic processing. Experiment 1 showed that angry participants were more likely to discriminate between weak and strong arguments than participants in neutral moods. Experiment 2 demonstrated that anger overrode dispositional preferences not to process, causing even those low in need for cognition to process analytically. Experiment 3 reconciled these findings with previous work by showing that angry people used accessible, valid, and relevant heuristics but otherwise processed analytically, as indicated by attitude change and elaboration data. Together, these experiments showed that angry people can have both the capacity and motivation to process and that their selective use of heuristics reflects the cue’s perceived validity and not the failure to process analytically.
Source: “Thinking Straight While Seeing RedThe Influence of Anger on Information Processing” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 33, No. 5, 706-720 (2007)