SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

Anger is a basic emotion, experienced by almost all human beings in response to the unwanted and unexpected behavior of others. Yet, there is little consensus as to which characteristics may differentiate people who experience normal versus exaggerated or pathological anger reactions. We examined the self-reported characteristics of specific anger episodes in 93 community adults who were high (HTA) or low (LTA) on trait anger. Using a componential model, they were asked to identify a recent anger episode and report on the triggers and associated cognitions, characteristics of the experience, desired and actual patterns of expression, and outcomes. HTA adults, in comparison to their LTA counterparts, exhibited anger reactions that were more frequent, intense, and enduring. They also reported more negative cognitions. Of particular importance, the HTA adults reported more physical aggression, negative verbal responses, drug use, and negative anger-related consequences. Thus, clinically important anger reactions may emerge as a function of the anger trait. Results are discussed in terms of implications for diagnosis and treatment. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 58: 1573–1590, 2002.