University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA
The term “anger” has a multiplicity of meanings in psychology, as in everyday language, and can refer to an experience or feeling, internal bodily reactions, an attitude toward others, an instigation to aggression, an overt assault on some target, and to various combinations of these different reactions. Since these responses are only imperfectly correlated, it is usually unclear just what people have in mind when they speak of “anger”. This chapter will review how investigators concerned with the psychology of emotions define the concept. Nothing will be said about the measurement of anger and, because of space limitations, we will also not look at the research into the consequences of expressing or not expressing anger feelings.
But although this chapter will concentrate on this one particular affective state, it will take up matters that are relevant to many other emotions as well. The study of anger raises issues that should be considered by theories of emotion generally. Some of these have to do with the phenomenology of the emotional state and the influences shaping the nature of this experience, others with the conditions that give rise to the emotion, and still others with the relation between the affective experience and overt behavior. The present chapter will survey the research and theories bearing on each of these topics and, in doing this, will highlight questions that are pertinent to many other emotions as well.
A good deal of research has focused on the mental representations of the bodily reactions in anger. The results have been quite similar in many of these investi-