This site is intended for non healthcare professionals. For the professional site, please click here

01/16/2002 - News

Suppressing anger only makes it worse

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


If you hide conceal or substitute emotions, they will find a way of expressing themselves eventually, according to new research.

Anger is part of everyday life - either someone gets mad at you or vice-versa several times a day. To keep civil, many people - women especially - just sit on their rage. But does this make it go away? Apparently not, according to a new study from the UK's Economic & Social Research Council, where researchers in Aberdeen, Scotland, looked at the effects of suppressing or substituting anger.

They had a group of men and women view video clips that would normally elicit anger and sadness (a standard method in emotions research). Some were asked to express how they really felt, some to suppress whatever feelings came up, while a third group were to substitute feelings elicited by a happy memory.

Then all were shown a second emotional film and asked to respond spontaneously. Those who had suppressed or substituted the feelings first time round felt more strongly. The women who had suppressed their anger were more likely to want to swear than men in the same situation. But men who had substituted their feelings were more likely to be upset, outraged or disgusted than those men who had suppressed them. The researchers suggest that these gender differences could be linked to men and women's different attitudes towards expressing anger - it's more acceptable for a man.

The study also suggests that anger will come out, whatever the situation. Since anger is linked to cardiovascular disease, it may be that keeping it in makes your health worse in the long term. And 'taking it out' on someone close to you will not help the relationship. So for physical and mental health, it's probably best to express anger straightaway.


Economic & Social Research Council January 13 2002

Created on: 01/16/2002
Reviewed on: 01/16/2002

Your rating: None

Add your comment

  • Allowed HTML tags: <p><b><em> <strong> <cite> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Copy the characters (respecting upper/lower case) from the image.