Why Do I Get Angry? A Componential Appraisal Approach

Chapter

Abstract

Anger is one of the most frequent emotional experiences in normal, everyday life. Surprisingly, however, anger as an emotion still tends to be narrowly defined and poorly understood. In particular, concepts such as anger, hostility, aggression, and frustration are used interchangeably, making scientific research and practical knowledge difficult to integrate. Moreover, even when anger is explicitly defined, often implicit and untested assumptions are made, for example, (1) that anger is directed at another person with the intention to harm him or her, (2) that aggression and hostility are natural consequences (or sometimes precursors) of anger, and (3) that this emotion is associated with poor social integration, health, and well-being. In this chapter, we propose an integrative model for anger. In particular, we will show that a componential appraisal approach to anger is useful for both systematic research and concrete applications. Using this framework, we will argue that anger does not emerge from specific situations or particular environmental or biological factors, but from the way that individuals subjectively give meaning to and evaluate situations or events. Moreover, and contrary to popular conceptions presuming that anger is uncontrollable and/or harmful, we will show that the occurrence and utility of anger can be explained by cognitive processes and individual differences. Finally, we will demonstrate how a componential appraisal approach to emotions allows us to synthesize research on anger as well as the different functional and dysfunctional manifestations of this emotion in everyday life.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swiss National Center for Affective Sciences; Department of PsychologyUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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