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The Influence of Dysphoria on Reactivity to Naturalistic Fluctuations in Anger


  • This research was supported by an American University Faculty Grant (K.G.). We thank Jennifer Kane, Ashlie Kelner, and Elesha Kingshott for assistance with data collection, Robert Guroff for assistance with data analysis, and Lawrence H. Cohen and David A. F. Haaga for comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

concerning this article should be addressed to Kathleen C. Gunthert, Department of Psychology, 321 Asbury Building, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20016. E-mail:


Abstract We used an experience sampling methodology to explore the relationship between current symptoms of dysphoria and momentary mood fluctuations following everyday experiences of anger. Using PDA devices, participants rated their mood, ruminative cognitions, feelings of dependency, and stressful events 4 times per day for 1 week. We hypothesized and found that those higher in dysphoria would demonstrate a stronger link between anger and depressed mood than those who were lower in dysphoria. Those participants who reported higher initial dysphoria indicated more anger over the course of the week, a stronger within-person association between anger and depressed mood, and a slower recovery from anger experiences. Multilevel moderated mediation analyses indicated that the link between anger and depressed mood for those high in dysphoria is largely explained by a stronger carryover of anger from one assessment to the next and partially explained by greater increases in ruminative cognitions and feelings of dependency. The change in depressed mood appears to occur with increases in anger, specifically, and not other negative mood states. Our results extend previous research on the anger–depression relationship by investigating the short-term relationships between anger and depressed mood among those with varying levels of dysphoria.