Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

Identifying Gender Differences in Male and Female Anger among an Adolescent Population

Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

Identifying Gender Differences in Male and Female Anger among an Adolescent Population

Article excerpt

The profession of mental health counseling serves a diverse population with a variety of needs, including substance abuse and anger management issues (Gutierrez & Hagedorn, 2013). In order to provide services to clients, mental health counselors use a number of modalities, such as individual and group counseling. Research indicates that group counseling in particular can be useful with certain populations, such as excessively angry clients (Burt, Patel, Butler, & Gonzalez, 2013; Fleckenstein & Home, 2004). Traditionally, anger management groups have focused on dealing with anger after it occurs. Recent developments in the field of counseling, however, suggest that a number of new trends are developing with mental health and anger management groups (Burt & Butler, 2011).

One of these trends focuses on early prevention with mental health counselors either providing facilitation or training others to facilitate anger management groups in schools (Curtis, Van Home, Robertson, & Karvonen, 2010). The targeted clients of most of the early prevention interventions are middle and high school populations (Parker & Bickmore, 2012). Burt and Butler (2011) contended, however, that many early prevention and anger management groups are gender biased and focus excessively on adolescent males. The researchers suggested that while adolescent females experience anger as well, they often do not receive counseling services (Burt & Butler, 2011). As a result, a growing population with similar needs is potentially neglected. While numerous differences do exist between genders, anger is a common emotion experienced by both (Karreman & Bekker, 2012).

Research indicates that differences exist between adolescent males and females with regard to behavioral decision-making processes and expression of emotions (Brandts & Garofalo, 2012). Although research depicts females as more emotionally expressive, males have a reputation of being more predisposed to anger. According to Sadeh, Javdani, Finy, and Verona (2011), females experience anger, but may express it differently than males. For example, instead of expressing anger by striking objects, adolescent females may talk to friends or peers (Fischer & Evers, 2011). Conversely, other studies purport that females express anger similarly to males, but experience difficulty recognizing and admitting the emotion due to social expectations and constraints (Karreman & Bekker, 2012). Males, on the other hand, tend to display anger more commonly and comfortably (Fischer & Evers, 2011). One of the many reasons that adolescent males may feel comfortable expressing anger is because it is socially acceptable (Burt et al., 2013).

An extensive number of studies have investigated anger; however, there appears to be a lack of studies exploring anger differences between genders. Karreman and Bekker (2012) conducted a study on gender differences, investigating autonomy-connectedness between genders. Their study indicated differences related to anger and sensitivity between genders. However, the study did not attempt to determine whether males and females were equal in anger at the beginning or end of the study. Similarly, Burt, Patel, and Lewis (2012) reported that incorporating social and relational competencies into anger management groups reduced anger, but there was no discussion of anger differences between genders. Sadeh et al. (2011) indicated that women expressed more self-anger (i.e., anger directed internally toward themselves) than males, but did not investigate whether differences existed between genders before the study.

Although limited, a small number of studies have attempted to examine anger differences between genders. Similar to Sadeh et al. (2011), Fischer & Evers (2011) found that females expressed subjective anger, or self-anger, more often than males. Buntaine and Costenbader (1997) found that both genders' self-reports (assessments) indicated no significant differences. …

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