Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 195–204 | Cite as

Anger management style, blood pressure reactivity, and acute pain sensitivity: Evidence for “trait × situation” models



Background: Anger management style is related to acute and chronic pain, but it is not clear whether anger arousal is needed for these associations to emerge or whether physiological mechanisms mediate these links.Purpose: “Trait × Situation” models were examined to determine whether relationships between anger-out and pain and anger-in and pain depended on anger provocation’s preceding pain induction and whether pain sensitivity variance explained by anger management style overlapped with variance in harassment-induced blood pressure reactivity.Methods: Healthy individuals (N = 53) underwent either mental arithmetic with harassment and then a cold pressor (MA/CP) or vice versa (CP/MA). The Spielberger Anger Expression Inventory assessed anger-out using the Anger-Out subscale (AOS) and anger-in using the Anger-In subscale (AIS).Results: AOS × Order and AIS × Order interactions for pain tolerance emerged, such that (a) AOS was related negatively to tolerance among MA/CP participants, whereas AOS and tolerance were not related in CP/MA; (b) AIS was related positively to tolerance in MA/CP, whereas AIS was related negatively to tolerance in CP/MA; and (c) tolerance variance accounted for by AOS in MA/CP overlapped substantially with tolerance variance accounted for by diastolic blood pressure reactivity.Conclusions: Findings support the notion that anger management style affects pain and are consistent with evidence that deficient endogenous opioid functioning may be one mechanism through which anger-out is linked to both pain sensitivity and cardiovascular stress reactivity, a connection that appears most reliably when anger is provoked.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • John W. Burns
    • 1
  • Stephen Bruehl
    • 2
  • Cynthia Caceres
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology,FUHS/Chicago Medical SchoolRosalind Franklin University of Medicine and ScienceNorth Chicago
  2. 2.Vanderbilt UniversityUSA

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