Gender differences in anger expression: Health implications


  • Dr. Sandra P. Thomas

    Corresponding author
    1. Director of the Center for Nursing Research, College of Nursing, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
    • Center for Nursing Research, College of Nursing, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1200 Volunteer Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37996-4110
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Anger expression modes were examined in a diverse sample of mid-life men and women (N = 139) participating in the third phase of a longitudinal study of health that began in 1982 at the World's Fair and a metropolitan general hospital in Tennessee. Contrary to previous studies, men and women did not differ in the likelihood of suppressing their anger (anger-in), nor were there gender differences in anger-out. However, † tests revealed significant differences between men and women in the likelihood of discussing anger and expressing anger via physical symptoms (women higher on both). The only mode of anger expression related to poorer health status was expression of anger via physical symptoms; anger-in, anger-out, and anger-discuss modes were unrelated. Correlates of anger symptoms for both men and women included lower levels of education and optimism, poorer health habits, and external locus of control beliefs. Several correlations were found to be gender-specific; e.g., women who exhibited more anger symptomatology were not suppressors of their anger, but directed it outward, taking it out on others and blaming others. Implications were discussed.