I realize that some of my readers would like to have more detail about the anger research alluded to in this book. In 1989, I put together a 14-member research team (all female and all nurses except for one psychologist) to conduct a descriptive study of women’s anger. Unlike previous studies of women aroused to anger in artificial laboratory experiments or deeply troubled women discovering long-buried anger in psychotherapy, our study aimed to examine anger in everyday situations at home and at work. We wanted to know what provoked women’s anger and how they expressed or inhibited it. Given the scant research and conflicting advice about anger management in both professional and popular literature, we wanted to know what ways of dealing with anger were health promoting. There was plenty of advice about healthdamaging thoughts and behaviors, but virtually no data-based information about constructive anger.
Data were collected over a 3-year period in a variety of community settings, including work sites, schools, and women’s organizations. More than 500 women, between the ages of 25 and 66, participated in this initial phase of the study. The women represented a wide range of educational backgrounds, marital status, occupations, and income brackets. The racial composition of the sample closely approximated the racial composition of the U.S. population, with the exception of fewer Hispanics. Seventy-five of the women were nurses, and we found that the nurses—along with other human service professionals—scored highest among occupational groups on overall anger proneness.
Phase I of the Women’s Anger Study was primarily quantitative. We used well-established and validated questionnaires to measure the anger variables as well as other variables related to anger, such as stress, selfesteem, and depression. The test battery included Spielberger’s Trait Anger Scale, the Framingham Anger Scales, the Cognitive-Somatic Anger Scale, the Perceived Stress Scale, Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale,