Out of all the emotions we experience, anger gets the worst rep because of the destructive capabilities it has that could push someone to do big damage. But it seems that all animals exhibit the same brain patterns or activity that humans do when we get angry and become aggressive.
Animals presumably have other triggers. And, of course, there’s no way to know for sure how an animal is feeling. So Anderson and other scientists focus on animals’ behavior and on biological changes like heart rate, hormone levels and brain activity.
By those measures, Anderson says, there is strong evidence that animals experience some sort of internal state that drives their aggressive behavior. "I’m comfortable calling that state anger as long as we are clear that we’re not [referring] to the subjective feeling," he says.
Research also shows that aggressive behavior is remarkably consistent across species, Anderson says.
The only difference between animals and humans is that we have brain circuits that help us cope with the emotions we feel. One of the questions raised by this is, is there a connection between aggressive behavior and brain evolution?
(Image credit: Ariel Davis/NPR)