Anger and Anger’s Expression Generally and in Romantic Relationships

Abstract

This research explored whether anger and anger expression differed when experienced generally versus in the context of a romantic relationship. Undergraduates completed trait anger and anger expression measures as they applied to their experiences generally and again as they applied to their romantic, partnered relationships. Students reported more anger and anger suppression generally than in relationships, but women reported more anger in relationships than men. Women reported more anger-out forms of anger expression in relationships than in general, whereas men did not differ in their anger expression style as a function of context. Men reported more overall anger-control in both contexts than women. Effect sizes for context and gender × context interactions were small to moderate. Parallel measures generally and in relationships were highly correlated. Findings are consistent with research demonstrating that context, and specifically the context of an intimate partnered relationship, influences anger and anger expression, but also suggest a large person factor as well. Implications for future research and work with couples in therapy are given.

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Correspondence to Jodie L. Kocur.

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Kocur, J.L., Deffenbacher, J.L. Anger and Anger’s Expression Generally and in Romantic Relationships. Contemp Fam Ther 36, 120–134 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10591-013-9271-5

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Keywords

  • Anger
  • Anger expression
  • Relationships
  • Gender differences