ITHACA, NY—A study published recently in the Journal Of Mental Health found that attempting to reverse a loud emotional display by asking an individual to calm down was effective only 9 percent of the time. Researchers at Cornell University's behavioral lab induced anxiety in subjects by administering a series of electric shocks, after which everyone was told to "calm down" and "take it easy." "We were surprised to find that not only were these phrases ineffective, but in an overwhelming number of cases they actually exacerbated the situation," psychologist Kenneth Pulaski said. "Even when participants were told to 'just take a deep breath,' they became more and more irate and were eventually reduced to a screaming mess." The study also concluded that telling someone to "just mellow out" would invariably lead to a researcher being punched in the face.
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