Anger Related to Psychopathology, Temperament, and Character in Healthy Individuals-An Explorative Study

Article excerpt

There is a continuing interest in anger from a psychopathological perspective (Lara, Pinto, Akiskal, & Akiskal, 2006), a general health perspective (Muris, Meesters, Morren, & Moorman, 2004), an organizational psychology perspective (Bono & Vey, 2007), and a social psychology perspective (Andrews, Brewin, Rose, & Kirk, 2000)--an interest because it is one of the basic human emotions. Particular foci of investigations have been the determinants and consequences of anger from the emotional and cognitive psychology perspective, including neuroscience aspects (Rothbart, 1989; Rothbart, Ahadi, & Evans, 2000; Stewart, Levin-Silton, Sass, Heller, & Miller, 2008; Wilkowski & Robinson, 2008a). Anger is often defined as the manner in which a person cognitively processes hostile situation input (Wilkowski & Robinson, 2008b, p. 4). This multidimensional construct is regarded as a major determinant of angry or aggressive responses reflecting specific uncomfortable subjective experiences, for example being prevented from attaining one's own goals (Roseman, 1991). Anger is characterized by particular autonomic, bodily, facial, verbal, or behavioral reactions in social interactions; it is usually a conscious experience which is either openly communicated (verbally or bodily), or suppressed. However, anger has been conceptualized in terms of a state-trait paradigm implying a distinction between trait and state anger (Spielberger, 1999).

Anger has been found to be associated with various psychological disorders and has principally been regarded as a secondary emotion or symptom of these disorders, although other researchers categorize anger disorder as a distinct psychopathological entity (Eckhardt, Norlander, & Deffenbacher, 2004). Recidivism, psychoticism, and neuroticism have been reported as predictors of anger, and traits related to neuroticism (such as depression, irrationality, or anxiety) have been found to be associated with anger. This suggests a relationship between anger and depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorders, and psychotic disorders, as well as personality disorders (Lara et al., 2006; Meffert et al., 2008). Thus, the complex phenomenon of anger has not yet been fully investigated and there is a need for further investigation.

Personality has been discussed as one obvious influential factor in causing anger, in terms of both anger expression and anger control, particularly in relation to angry temperament. Individuals who scored highly on neuroticism scales have been found to experience more negative emotions including anger. Furthermore, trait anger has been conceptualized as low agreeableness (Ahadi & Rothbart, 1994; Meier & Robinson, 2004) and novelty seeking as causing anger. Investigations have revealed that agreeableness is inversely related to trait anger (Kuppens, 2005) and frustration reactivity is related to externalizing negative affect including anger. Based on Cloninger's biosocial theory of personality (Cloninger, Svrakic, & Przybeck, 1993), Krug and coworkers (2008) reported positive associations of trait anger with harm avoidance, negative associations with reward dependence, and even closer negative associations of trait and state anger aspects with self-directedness and cooperativeness.

With respect to anger, the concept of effortful control, introduced by Rothbart (1989), reflects the capacity of an individual to inhibit dominant processes in favor of less dominant processes and correlates negatively with behavioral signs of anger (Calkins, Dedmon, Gill, Lomax, & Johnson, 2002). With reference to this, Spielberger and his coworkers included anger control variables when developing the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (Spielberger, 1999). In accordance with the definition of effortful control, Krug et al. (2008) found a positive association between anger inwards control and self-directedness which, amongst other things, refers to taking responsibility for the consequences of one's own behavior, purposefulness of one's own behavior, and competence. …