Did the Difference Between Black and White Americans in Anger-Out Decrease During the First Decade of the Twenty-First Century?
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Studies have found blacks in the USA report lower levels of anger-out and higher levels of anger-in than whites. However, most of the research on anger expression has been based on data from limited samples. The current study investigates the black–white difference in anger-in and anger-out in a sample representative of Americans aged 40 and older. Data are from the two most recent waves of the Americans’ Changing Lives (ACL) surveys. In 2001, the ACL assessed both outcomes, with anger-out re-assessed in 2011. Thus, individual-level change in anger-out can be investigated. Drawing on literature on “anger privilege,” civility, the politicization of anger, and related topics, we develop and evaluate hypotheses about: (1) the race difference in anger-out over time, (2) race as a moderator of the gender difference in both forms of anger expression, and (3) the impact of controlling for perceived discrimination on anger expression. We find blacks to report greater expressive reticence with regard to their anger (i.e., anger-in) than whites in 2001. That race difference became nonsignificant when discrimination was controlled. The race difference in anger-out was of borderline significance in 2001 and became significant after discrimination was controlled. Longitudinal analyses show that the race difference in anger-out decreased over time. The rate that anger-out decreased by did not significantly differ by race. We discuss processes that that could contribute to our results. We also speculate about how current trends in political anger expression might be related to the patterns we observe.
KeywordsEmotional expression Race Anger privilege Civility Political correctness
We thank Philippa Clarke, Gary Koeske, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on an earlier draft.
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