So, a family member, friend, co-worker or romantic half that you confronted because you believe that he or she is lying exploded like a volcano the minute the confrontation took place. Is this a clear indicator that the person is guilty? Will you pressing on cause him or her to make the confession you want to hear?
According to psychologists, pathological liars tend to get extremely angry when accused of something and even more so when presented with proof. They also attempt to tell more lies to counter any evidence. Non-pathological liars can also get angry, too, which can make them appear guilty even when they’re not.
Different people react differently when accused of something, such as being deceptive. And it’s because of this why it’s not that easy to tell whether or not the individual is guilty based on the resulting reaction alone.
Since most people will react angrily when accused falsely, in this post, I will talk about whether or not someone who gets fuming mad at the accuser is in fact laden with guilt.
Is Anger a Normal Reaction to a False Accusation?
It’s not uncommon for most individuals who are falsely accused to get angry. Such is proven by study after study by the experts. So, in other words, in most instances, anger is a valid cue of innocence rather than guilt. Unfortunately, anger looks bad, too, which can make an innocent person easily appear guilty or at least hiding something.
Being accused of something you did not do can be frustrating. There are many different typical responses to frustration, including depression and stress.
Frustration can also make one angry.
The general consensus is that people who react angrily to accusations must be guilty. However, there are numerous social studies that say otherwise.
For instance, based on a study called “Anger Damns the Innocent” conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto and Harvard Business School, anger is more of a sign of innocence.
In the said study, over 200 subjects were asked to do either an easy task (capitalizing the first and last letters of each paragraph in the document) or a difficult task (finding and removing every adverb in the document).
The participants were also told that they would get $2 for doing the assignment correctly.
However, the people who were conducting the study lied and told everyone that nobody got it right. For those who did the challenging task, it appeared to be true. For those who did the easy task, however, it was more of a false accusation. Individuals who felt they were falsely accused reported feeling angrier.
Based on the result, we can derive the fact that it’s normal for individuals who feel being wrongly accused (or unfairly assessed in the case of the study) to feel infuriated — anger does not always translate to guilt.
And I guess most of us will agree that, even without any study, any false accusation can make one angry.
Does Anger Make a Wrongly Accused Person Look Guilty?
Like hate and jealousy, anger is a negative emotion. Because negative emotions are generally considered unfavorable reactions, it isn’t surprising why those who are experiencing and expressing them can look bad in the eyes of others. It’s probably because of this why it can be easy for many people to interpret anger as a sign of guilt.
There is a tendency for many to make snap judgments based on their instincts, hunches and biases when evaluating the situation and assessing how involved individuals react to it.
So, in other words, it comes naturally that someone who reacts angrily is seen unfavorably.
According to professors of business administration at Harvard Business School who conducted a series of experiments, people who are wrongly accused of lying appear guilty if they respond in anger. Even after explaining their side and speaking nothing but the truth, losing their cool makes the situation worse.
3 Things To Do When Falsely Accused
Resisting giving a reaction immediately after being falsely accused can help prevent a person from appearing guilty as well as causing further damage, such as tainting one’s reputation. Anger is a powerful emotion that, when handled poorly or inappropriately, can lead to results far more destructive than being falsely accused of something.
In most instances, being accused of lying or anything else that one has not committed can strike out of the blue. It’s also quite common for anyone to react defensively, such as in the form of anger, all of a sudden.
This, however, should be avoided at all costs as possibly as a person can.
Staying calm when given an accusation that’s anything but factual is easier said than done. But doing everything you can to keep silent even for just a few seconds can help you tame your emotions and keep yourself from having an outburst. Whether the accusation is made in person or via SMS or email, composing yourself is a definite must.
And because getting angry can make you seem guilty, it goes without saying that, while it’s okay to feel angry, it’s generally a good idea to avoid expressing anger in such a situation.
Here are the steps to take the minute a false accusation reaches your knowledge:
Take a deep breath
Deep breathing can help you focus more on what’s making you angry rather than your anger itself. Needless to say, before you give any reaction to an accusation made against you, whether falsely or otherwise, take a deep breath. Breathing slowly and deeply into your nose and out of your mouth can work effectively in lowering your fury.
Perform a background check
In order to be able to correctly defend yourself by stating the facts, you should first get an idea of how the accusation came into being and from whom it came. Whether or not the individual in front of you or who sent you the text message or email is the accuser, obtain as many pieces of information as you can to see the bigger picture.
Explain your side
When telling your side of the story, keep it as concise as possible. This can help keep the person you are sharing it with from thinking you are being defensive and over-explaining the matter, which can be easily mistaken for feeling guilty. But before you start talking about facts, determine if the other party is ready or eager to hear you out.
False accusations can range anywhere from something that you can simply shrug off to something that can jeopardize anything from your reputation, relationships to employment status.
Accused of a crime and you know you’re innocent? Here are some of the things to do:
- Stay calm
- Assess the seriousness of the accusation
- Gather physical evidence
- Find a witness
- Obtain the contact information of your witness
- Understand the cost of a defense
- Consult an attorney
Just Before You Assume That Someone Angry is Lying
Refrain from assuming that someone who gets angry after getting falsely accused, such as being deceitful, is exhibiting guilt. As discussed earlier in this post, experiment after experiment revealed that anger, in this particular context, is associated more with being innocent than being guilty.
And if you’re the one being wrongly accused, compose yourself so that you can compose a response that can keep you from being seen as being too defensive and thus seeming like the accuser is right after all.
What does psychology say about an angry person?
According to psychologists, anger is typically associated with hostile thoughts and maladaptive behaviors. It’s a negative feeling that usually develops in response to the unwanted action of others. An angry person, in most instances, often acts without thinking, which is why it can be destructive.
Do people speak the truth when angry?
It’s very rare for someone to speak the truth in anger. Often, anger can cause the articulation of things that are intentionally hurtful, which is more common in young and immature individuals. Besides untruths, anger can also cause a person to say spiteful things that can harm others as well as himself or herself.