Mad Over Health Care Reform, or Something Else?

"Being in a group and being anonymous, you feel more protected to be very direct in a way that you would not if you were speaking to one of the senators one-on-one," said Rose. "It's not the same exactly, but it's kind of like road rage -- most people wouldn't swear like that face to face."

Yet, other psychologists see all this uproar as more of an example of group dynamics than a smoldering anger waiting to flare.

"You also got the situation with these groups -- large groups -- of people packed together and the sense of people already being aroused," said Stephen Worchel, a professor of psychology and expert in group dynamics at University of Hawaii, Hilo.

Once a group reaches a certain level of intensity, Worchel said it only takes one or two outward expressions of a particular emotion to cue the crowd into a shared passionate feeling.

"You could take the same arousal, and if they were in an environment where a person was angry, they'd label their feeling as angry and if some people were euphoric, they'd label their feeling as euphoric," he said.

How Group Dynamics May Change Your Opinion

Greg Burns, a psychiatrist at Emory University and author of "Iconoclast," said that passionate groups can alter more than feelings. People may even subconsciously adopt the opinion of the group around them.

"Anytime you get in a group [of four people or more], we see that the group opinions get mixed in with individual opinions, whether talking about art or music or financial decisions," said Burns.

"A lot of these things are subjective and personal judgment, but when you hear other people's opinions, it changes your opinions and we can actually see this in the brain. The individual is not even aware of it. They believe that it's their own opinion," he said.

Yet among the clashing opinions at town halls currently, it's not clear which opinion individuals may subconsciously adopt.

Luckily, some of those in Congress have managed to keep the meetings civil.

"I think for the most part people are concerned and have questions, but the shouters and yellers; they're the exception rather than the rule," said Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who held multiple town hall meetings on health care Thursday.

"We didn't have any of that the senior center meeting today," he said.

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