mindworkslab

September 2023

All Country Paper

In the Anger Monitor, we use a segmentation model to identify six different Anger Types. These don’t describe a specific person but rather the type of anger a person is inclined to revert to when triggered. Discover the Anger Types in our short guide below.

All Country Reccomendations

The Anger Monitor was carried out in six countries in September 2023 (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Poland, France and the UK) looking into the quality and quantity of anger and agency in each country.

The results show that the majority of people are angry about multiple issues, ranging from recent crises like inflation to perennials like governmental corruption and climate change. It highlighted widespread levels of both personal and political powerlessness but also demonstrated a clear link between anger and action. Lastly, through our Anger Type segmentation (learn more in this short guide), we identified a group of people who hold Constructive anger, our best allies for using anger to create change.

The Anger Monitor offers an opportunity for changemakers to engage with anger, an emotion often weaponised and owned by populists or the far-right. This powerful emotion cannot be ignored and offers unique opportunities to help you reach your goals.

This document contains five recommendations that are not only applicable in the six countries but most likely also in other countries (to be tested). This document is accompanied by country-specific recommendations for each of the six countries. You can find the full questionnaire for reference here.

Five Reccomendations

Anger is a potent emotion that can yield action. It is, therefore, useful to engage angry people when trying to create climate action and address their anger in your communication. Different Anger Types show substantially different levels of activity. Anger-oriented communication will engage Constructive and Toxic anger groups most effectively. As outlined in Recommendation Two, communicating with Toxic anger groups is tricky. The profiles of the different Anger Types derived from the Anger Monitor can be used to tailor communication to each of these groups. Constructive Anger Types are the easiest and most effectively engaged audiences.

 

Anger vs Climate Action

 

Fig. 1: Anger about climate change and action on climate and environment. Percentage of very angry and angry people compared to little or not angry people taking offline and online action on climate change and the environment. In all countries, 1.5 to 2 times more angry people take action than those who are not angry.

 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 1: Anger about climate change and action on climate and environment. Percentage of very angry and angry people compared to little or not angry people taking offline and online action on climate change and the environment. In all countries, 1.5 to 2 times more angry people take action than those who are not angry

 

 

Except for the Restrained group, all Anger Types are more worried than hopeful. Worry has also increased while hope is decreasing. At the same time, uncertainty has become a significant source of anger in all countries. People strive for a simpler life and are primarily nostalgic about stable times with less volatility and change.

 

In this context, it makes no sense to add fuel to the fire. Communicating risks, uncertainty, and demand for faster change overwhelms people’s emotional resilience, driving them into denial. The build-up of different forms of emotional denial around climate change offers a golden opportunity for populists or adversaries looking to win the hearts and minds of people by supporting their disavowal. On the other hand, activists who continue to push negative emotions onto people become emotional adversaries to those in denial, drawing anger upon themselves.

 

Instead of emphasising risk and faster change, talk about the possibilities of creating more security today and in the future. In times when uncertainty fuels anxiety and anger, security has become a potent value for people’s motivation to endorse change. As security is a widely shared value, you should also communicate these possibilities as ‘normal’ and as something everybody agrees to, creating a new normal of change instead of a radical demand. Such a communications reframing is necessary if one works on the energy transition, climate adaptation or towards a more equitable society.

Activists often assume that a public debate is necessary to ensure progress. When an issue like the cost of living crisis or climate change has become mainstream, public discussions tend to create and strengthen polarised views. The volatile emotional fabric of people in the polycrisis and the large proportion of Toxic anger allows populists and antagonists to weaponise public debates. In many countries, climate change has been added to the culture war and weaponised to split societies. Thus, entering public debates in the polycrisis has become more complex, unpredictable and dangerous. If you can create change without a public discussion, do so, and if you do enter or foster a public debate, assess if you have the power to handle it and avert backlash.

Disempowerment is creating denial and toxic anger. Personal disempowerment, in particular, fosters Toxic anger. Therefore, aim for strategies that empower people. Empowerment requires people to take action that has an impact. While activating people to sign a petition or reduce flying might be a worthwhile activity, it should not be mistaken as an empowering action as long as it does not reduce uncertainty or people’s fear. One can empower people through different campaigning strategies. Feeling heard, becoming an energy producer, or adapting to extreme weather conditions can all be ways to empower people. Tackling all forms of disempowerment (absolute and learned helplessness and power denial) will require diverse strategies: system change, norm and narrative shifts and denial resolution.

 

We strongly recommend combining adaptation and mitigation strategies. One can use adaptation to create collective agency and move people up the empowerment ladder, from changing personal perception first, then norms and narratives, and then the system. People who have managed to do so on adaptation will show more potential to do the same on mitigation. Equally, combining mitigation and adaptation prevents these two strands of climate work from being pitched against each other and facilitates people’s understanding of their mutual connections and synergies.

In Recommendation 1, , we address ways to avoid creating new denial. However, we must assume that the emotional fabric we have observed, high worry, powerlessness, pessimism and intense nostalgia, has already led to a high degree of denial, especially for the Anger Types that show low personal or political power. People in denial can not be reached by broadcasting or confrontation. Such strategies can even backfire.

 

Communication must allow people to reconnect with their real feelings and realise their denial. Mindworks has developed multiple conversation formats to achieve such objectives and can handle hundreds of conversations with minimum resources ranging from seminars to digital conversation spaces (Time to Talk). Such conversations can foster empowerment by themselves but should also be combined with other campaign efforts to empower people (Recommendation 3)