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Toward Disentangling Sources of Individual Differences in Appraisal and Anger


  • The authors would like to thank Tom Snijders, Francis Tuerlinckx, and Eva Van de gaer for their comments on earlier versions of this paper. The research reported in this paper was supported by KULeuven Research Council Grant GOA/05/04. The first author is a postdoctoral research fellow of the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (FWO).

concerning this article should be addressed to Peter Kuppens, Department of Psychology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Tiensestraat 102, 3000 Leuven, Belgium; E-mail:


ABSTRACT A theoretical framework is presented to explain individual differences in situation-specific emotional experience in terms of three different sources of variance: (a) individual differences in how one appraises one's circumstances, (b) individual differences in how appraisals are related to the experience of emotion, and (c) individual differences independent from situation and appraisal. The relative contribution and nature of these sources was examined empirically for the experience of anger based on data from two directed imagery studies (total N=1,192). Consistent results across the two studies demonstrated that variability in anger experience primarily stems from variability in how a situation is appraised and to a smaller extent from individual differences in the relations between the appraisals and anger and individual differences independent of appraisal. The findings further identified frustration as the central appraisal involved in anger. Implications for emotion theories and anger management programs are discussed.