Capturing the Structure of Distinct Types of Individual Differences in the Situation-specific Experience of Emotions: The Case of Anger


Eva Ceulemans, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Andreas Vesaliusstraat 2, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.



The aim of this paper was to understand why some people experience certain emotions in a specific situation, whereas others do not. We postulate that these individual differences arise from individual differences in two underlying processes of emotion elicitation: (i) individual differences in the emotion components (appraisals and action tendencies) that situations activate in a person and (ii) individual differences in how these emotion components are related to subjective emotional experience. In this paper, we re-analysed data from two studies on anger to capture the structure of these two types of individual differences by using clustering modelling techniques. Consistent results across the two studies demonstrated that individuals differ in anger because they (i) differ in how easy they experience anger-relevant appraisals (Studies 1 and 2) and action tendencies (Study 2) in increasingly negative situations and (ii) differ in which of these components are necessary to experience anger. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.