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My attempt: This site says that it is due to flight or fight mechanism, which results in more amount of blood being passed to face causing red face.

But isn't it wasteful for our body to send more blood to face than to our muscles for efficient action?

Also an answer to this question says quite opposite.

So, I think that first site maybe wrong.

So, what exactly is the reason for red face during rage(anger)?


Evidence for my claim:

Several physiological studies have demonstrated that human facial color also varies with emotional states. The face often flushes during anger, or pleasure, and sometimes goes pale when experiencing fear or fear mixed with anger.

Source:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5259783/

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    $\begingroup$ But does it get red? Do you have any reason to think this is not just a comic representation that does not match reality? You pointed to a post suggesting that our face gets pale when under stress, so it really feels like stating that our face turns red when angry is not evidence based. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Apr 16 '17 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ Come on, Does this fact even need a proof? Have you ever seen an angry person? $\endgroup$ – JM97 Apr 16 '17 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ I sure have already seen an angry person but I would not be able to tell whether their face turned red or not. We will see if other usage are happy about considering "faces turning red when angry" as common knowledge or whether they doubt about this claim. I might be the only one unsure of this to being true. If I may, a correct terminology would imply saying "Does this claim need evidence" rather than "Does this fact need proof". $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Apr 16 '17 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for correcting my English. Please see my edited question. $\endgroup$ – JM97 Apr 16 '17 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ @JM97: I have seen many angry people, enough to know that there are individual differences in the way anger is expressed, and also different types of anger. The red face is a stereotype, but by no means universal. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Apr 16 '17 at 18:43
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The comments and answer so forth are mainly related to the visibility and possible social and evolutionary explanation of the 'red face'.

While not discussing the social or evolutionary factors, I can give an overview of the biochemistry involved.

Anger and associated feelings such as stress are part of the 'fight or flight' response. This response is regulated mainly by the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine (the same as adrenaline and noradrenaline) into the blood stream by the adrenal glands, and from neurons into the synapses. Wiki:Fight or Flight response (Hence, the signal is send out both in the whole organism, and locally between neurons).

These hormones/neurotransmitters have a number of physiological effects:

  • They trigger a combination of vasoconstriction and vasodillation in different parts of the body, meaning that the blood vessels constricted and widened, respectively, in different tissues. This allows for a more effective transfer of nutrients to the muscles and brain. Wiki: Epinephrine

  • They trigger the increase of blood sugar by breakdown of glycogen deposits. Again, the body is in a situation where it needs to use the available energy ressources.

  • The heart rate is increased. Again, this allows for more effective transportation.

As listed above, the hormones related to anger both trigger the constriction and dilation of blood vessels in different tissues. Thus, the routing of the blood through the system also changes.

However, the routing of the blood seems to differ, depending on the exact feeling, where blood sometimes are routed to the surfaces areas of the skin, and sometimes away from them (by means of vasoconsttriction and vasodillstion, respectively).

Intuitively, this is can be a way of controlling the body temperature, as the body can expose the warm blood to the surroundings to a lesser or greater extent.

I don't think it is entirely understood, what determines this, but a guess could be that in situations of anger, the body has to be able to effectively use the muscles and fight, and thus also needs to be cooled, in order for the systems to work properly. In situations of fear you might to hide instead for a long time and preserve the body heat and energy (just speculations).

Besides, it also could have a social impact.

But when blood is transferred to the facial areas, including the brain which needs energy to think quickly, and the skin surface for cooling down, it can have an affect on the perceived color of the face.

As noted by others, the degree of visibility is highly personal, as it depends on several factors such as the degree of hormone release, hormone sensitivity, anatomical features of the face such as placement of blood vessels, skin color and so forth.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE and thank you for your answer. Could please give some references (preferably peer-reviewed articles or e.g. Wikipedia for common knowledge). Also consider taking the tour and look at what is considered a good answer on this site for further information. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – AlexDeLarge May 30 '17 at 15:58
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I don't think the answer to your question is known per se, and as some comments pointed out the claim "our face gets red during anger" itself needs examining.

I will provide one element to think on however, which is that with emotional responses in general there might not always be a simple physiological reason for all the physical manifestations of the emotion, and if there is it might not be the whole story. There can very plausibly be social reasons why our emotions are visible and hard to control. It's useful for communication, letting other people know how we feel; it could also be useful to get people to do what we want (if someone is visibly angry in a way they clearly can't control then there might be other things they can't control and any threat they make may be more credible because of that; someone who's visibly upset demonstrates that they care about an issue more effectively than just saying they care does).

In other words, it is quite plausible that there were adaptive reasons for us to develop visible emotions, and from there any physical manifestation of those emotions (such as getting red in the face) might well exist mainly because it makes the emotion visible, and not because that particular response has a specific use beyond that.

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