Five Tips For Managing Anger While Driving

Traffic jam Rio de Janeiro 03 2008 28
We have all experienced feelings of anger toward others while driving. These range from mild annoyance or frustration to intense rage. For some, it is the vehicle in the left lane driving slower than the posted speed limit. For others, it is the reckless driver weaving in and out of traffic. It is in these moments that we may become tempted to do something stupid, something that could place us in danger.

Here are five tips for staying safe in anger-provoking driving situations:

  1. Don't take it personally. It often seems like other drivers must be deliberately messing with you, but this is rarely the case. The "rude" driver who veered into your lane probably did not see you. The person merging onto the freeway slowly enough that you had to brake wasn't waiting for you on the on-ramp just to ruin your day. Others' bad driving is rarely aimed at you.
  2. Avoid name-calling. Even if you manage to refrain from yelling out your window at other drivers, research suggests that calling them inflammatory names (even just to yourself) makes you more angry rather than less angry.
  3. Let go of the need to be right. Your safety is more important than being right. Maybe you were the first to arrive at the 4-way stop and you have the right-of-way. If the other vehicle blasts through the intersection anyway, the fact that it was your turn will not be much consolation when it hits you.
  4. Recognize that if someone else is determined to have an accident, you don't need to be part of it. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to slow down and let the other driver pass you. Maybe the other driver is intoxicated or playing with his or her smartphone. These are drivers you do not want to be close to. If they have an accident, it is better that it does not involve you.
  5. Remember that it is not your job to punish other drivers. We have all had the urge to honk, slow down in front of someone tailgating us, cut in front of another driver, or make obscene gestures to "teach them a lesson." This sort of retaliation may feel good, but it increases the likelihood that you could end up the target of someone else's road rage.
Keeping one’s cool on the road is not always easy, but it is an important part of safe driving. We have no control over how others drive, but we can learn to manage our responses to other drivers’ behavior.

David Boudreaux Defends Dissertation on New Measure of Attitudes Toward Anger Management

David Boudreaux successfully defended his dissertation yesterday, Refinement of the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale. Using a sample of college student volunteers, he confirmed the factor structure of the scale developed for his master's thesis and obtained additional evidence in support of its reliability and validity.

It is hoped that this measure will ultimately provide clinicians will a tool for assessing client perceptions of anger management. Now that we know something about how the measure works with college students, the next phase of development will likely involve data collection in non-college and clinical samples.

David recently started his predoctoral internship at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, FL. He had very positive things to say about his experience so far and recommended this site to future students interested in VA internships.

Congratulations, David!

David Boudreaux's Dissertation Defense Scheduled

After receiving approval from his committee, David Boudreaux has scheduled his dissertation defense for Monday, August 24 at Noon. We expect to have a few thesis and dissertation proposal and defense meetings in the next few months, and this will be a good one for students interested in seeing what a dissertation defense looks like to attend.

David's dissertation, Refinement of the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale, involves the continued development of a brief self-report measure of attitudes toward anger management he developed for his thesis. After confirming the factor structure of the measure in a new sample, David evaluated internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and construct validity. As a result, we have a much better sense for how the measure performs and where the development process should go next.

Emily Prather Defends Dissertation on Anger and Binge Eating

Emily Prather successfully defended her doctoral dissertation yesterday at the University of Southern Mississippi, Predictors of Binge Eating in College Women. Emily's study evaluated the relationships among four theoretically relevant factors hypothesized to predict subclinical binge eating in a sample of college women: trait anger, anger suppression, impulsivity, and emotion regulation.

Emily started by confirming the four-factor structure of the UPPS Impulsivity Scale (Whiteside & Lynam, 2001) through confirmatory factor analysis. Multiple measures of impulsivity have been used in the literature, and the UPPS is one of the newer ones. Given that there has been some disagreement over the optimal factor structure, it was important to make sure that the four-factor structure of this measure would be confirmed in this sample. After confirming this factor structure, Emily found that the urgency and lack of perseverance factors predicted binge eating. Urgency was a hypothesized predictor, but the utility of perseverance was unexpected and suggests that the role of impulsivity in binge eating may be somewhat broader than previously thought.

Trait anger predicted binge eating over and above general negative affect, suggesting that there seems to be something about one's propensity to experience angry feelings that may be particularly useful in understanding binge eating. The tendency to suppress anger in an unhealthy manner also predicted binge eating, and both anger suppression and emotion regulation partially mediated the relationship between trait anger and binge eating. It appears that anger management and the development of emotion regulation strategies may be worth exploring for college women with subclinical binge eating.

Emily is currently
completing her predoctoral internship at Wellspan Behavioral Health in York, PA. She recently accepted a postdoc position with Wellspan to begin this summer.

Congratulations, Emily!

Students to Present to Interfraternity Council

Anger control difficulties are not uncommon among college students, and anger-related problems are often compounded by academic stress, alcohol use, and living in close proximity to so many people with different backgrounds, attitudes, and values.

Caitlin Clark and Daniel Deason, two doctoral students working in the lab, will present information about the anger management services available through the
Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic to the Southern Miss Interfraternity Council next week. We are happy to have the opportunity to inform fraternity presidents about the resources available on campus for helping their members learn how to manage anger more effectively and prevent anger-related problems.

David Boudreaux Proposes Dissertation

David Boudreaux successfully proposed his dissertation yesterday. His study, Refinement of the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale, will attempt to confirm the factor structure of a measure he developed for his thesis, the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale (ATAMS), and provide additional support for the reliability and validity of the measure.

The ATAMS will be under development for some time, as David collects his data and completes his analyses. Eventually, we hope to produce a psychometrically sound measure of attitudes toward anger management that can be used to inform prevention and treatment.

Students Complete Advanced Anger Management Training

After completing a round of basic anger management training last month focused on learning how to incorporate anger management techniques into individual counseling, several graduate students in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi continued their training today. Today's training focused on preparing students to implement Cognitive Relaxation Coping Skills (CRCS; Deffenbacher & McKay, 2000), a brief evidence-based treatment for clinically dysfunctional anger.

CRCS is a structured multicomponent treatment in which clients learn to reduce their level of anger arousal through a variety of relaxation coping skills and cognitive restructuring. It is typically delivered in an 8-12 session package.

The students who completed today's training will have the opportunity to provide CRCS to clients in the Hattiesburg community seeking help with problem anger through the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic's anger management program.

David Boudreaux Interviewed by All the Rage

David Boudreaux
Dr. Ryan Martin, an alumnus of the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab and Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, writes a blog focused on the science of anger and violence called All the Rage. Dr. Martin recently posted an interview he did with David Boudreaux, an advanced doctoral student working in the lab. In the interview, David describes his interest in anger and how it fits into his career plan.

David will soon propose his dissertation, a validation study of the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale (ATAMS; Boudreaux, Dahlen, Madson, & Bullock-Yowell, 2014). David developed the ATAMS in his master's thesis, and his dissertation should be an important step in continuing its development.

Students Complete Basic Anger Management Training

On February 21, 11 graduate students in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi completed a live training designed to fulfill the basic anger management content component required for Certified Anger Management Specialist - I (CAMS-I) designation by the National Anger Management Association. The training was designed to provide students with basic information about anger and how to integrate evidence-based anger management interventions into their work with clients at the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic in Hattiesburg, MS.

Students who completed the training and go on to complete the supervision component will be eligible to apply for certification by the National Anger Management Association.

Paper on Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale Published

The paper based on David Boudreaux's master's thesis, which was accepted for publication in May by Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, has been published. The citation is:

Boudreaux, D. J., Dahlen, E. R., Madson, M. B., & Bullock-Yowell, E. (2014). Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale: Development and initial validation. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 47, 14-26. doi: 10.1177/0748175613497039

David plans to continue developing the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale for his dissertation, as additional work on the new measure is needed before it can be used in clinical and research settings. Additional information about the scale will be provided here as it becomes available.

Predictors of Binge Eating in College Women

Emily Prather proposed her dissertation today, Predictors of Binge Eating in College Women. She did a great job with her proposal, and her dissertation committee approved her plan.

Emily's study aims to clarify the possible roles of trait anger, anger suppression, impulsivity, and emotion regulation in binge eating among college women. Data collection will begin in the fall. It is hoped that her study will inform our understanding of binge eating.

Charles Spielberger, RIP

I am sad to report that Dr. Charles Spielberger, author of the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2, passed away yesterday. We in the lab are indebted to Dr. Spielberger in more ways than I can mention. Without his measures, theories, considerable body of scholarship, and assistance over the years, much of our work on anger would not have been possible. He will be missed.


Charles Donald Spielberger, PhD (born 1927) passed away June 11, 2013. Dr. Spielberger was a clinical and community psychologist best known for his work on personality and health. He was past president of the American Psychological Association and an emeritus member of the Psychology Department at the University of South Florida, where he served as Department Chair. Dr. Spielberger was a USF Distinguished Research Professor, the highest academic honor bestowed by the University. An internationally acclaimed scholar, he wrote over 460 professional publications. He was also a mentor to many graduate students, and provided gifts to the USF Foundation to support graduate students through scholarships. In recognition for his work, Dr. Spielberger received numerous awards, including the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology and the Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in the Application of Psychology from the American Psychological Foundation. After his official retirement, he remained an active researcher, running the Center for Research in Behavioral Medicine & Health Psychology.

Before coming to USF, he taught at Vanderbilt University (1962-1967) and Florida State University (1967-1972). He also served as a visiting faculty at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study. Dr. Spielberger served in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1946 to 1979, retiring at the rank of Commander. He earned a B.S. in chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Iowa.

Dr. Spielberger is survived by his wife, Carol, and his son, Nicholas.

Prepared by Dr. Michael Brannick, Chair, Department of Psychology, University of South Florida

Interview With El Observador

I was interviewed last week by a reporter with El Observador, a newspaper in Uruguay. The article, "Luis Suárez, un mordiscón en un partido y el otro lado de la ira, según expertos," addressed anger in the context of a recent incident during which Uruguayan soccer player, Luis Suárez, bit a player during a match between Liverpool and Chelsea.

The article by Daniel Ríos addressed the development of problem anger, the benefits of healthy anger, and anger management. Dr. Howard Kassinove of Hofstra University was also interviewed for the article.

Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale Soon to be Published

Evidence-based treatments for clinically dysfunctional anger have been available for some time; however, they are often designed for highly motivated individuals who acknowledge having a problem with anger and a desire for assistance. While some individuals with anger problems are motivated, many others are ambivalent about seeking or actively participating in treatment. The importance of assessing treatment motivation is evident to clinicians who provide anger management services, and measures of treatment readiness are beginning to appear.

Attitudes toward anger management services are likely to influence one's willingness to seek professional help for dysfunctional anger and impact the nature of the working alliance. Assessing attitudes toward these services may help us identify obstacles to help seeking and better engage angry clients early in treatment.

A paper based on David Boudreaux's master's thesis describing the development of the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale (ATAMS), a new measure designed to assess attitudes toward seeking professional help with problem anger, was just accepted for publication in Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development. The paper describes the development and initial validation of the measure.

Additional work on the ATAMS is needed before the instrument can be recommended for use in clinical settings, but we are encouraged by the initial results and will soon begin collecting additional data.

The citation is below, and the paper is available in pre-release .pdf format by clicking on the title:

Boudreaux, D. J., Dahlen, E. R., Madson, M. B., Bullock-Yowell, E. (in press). Attitudes toward anger management scale: Development and initial validation. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development.

National Anger Management Association to Hold Fall Conference in Arizona

The National Anger Management Association has scheduled their Fall conference for October 24-25, 2013, in Tuscon, AZ. The conference will be held on the campus of the University of Arizona and is focused on those interested in treating problem anger and domestic violence. Additional information about the conference can be found here.

Anger and Culture at SEPA

David Boudreaux and Deirdre Paulson

Here are David Boudreaux and Deirdre Paulson at the 2013 Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) conference in Atlanta with their poster, Anger From a Multicultural Perspective. Deirdre works on Dr. Melanie Leuty's Work & Occupations Research Collaboration Team. This poster was a great example of productive collaboration across different research labs in our program.

Poster Accepted for APA

A poster based on David Boudreaux's master's thesis, Attitudes Toward Anger Management Services, has been accepted for inclusion in the Division 17 poster session at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association in Honolulu, Hawaii. Congratulations to David! A trip to Hawaii should be a nice break from working on his dissertation.

Posters Accepted for SEPA

Caitlin Clark, a second-year master's student working in the lab, had a paper based on her master's project accepted for a poster session at the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting in Atlanta. The title is The Role of Parenting in College Student Relational Aggression.

David Boudreaux, a third-year doctoral student working in the lab, co-authored a paper with Deirdre Paulson and Dr. Melanie Leuty, How Do Anger and Culture Affect Mental Health Practice? Deirdre is a second-year doctoral student working in Dr. Leuty's Work & Occupations Research Collaboration Team.

Anger Listserv

A few years ago, researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay started an anger research consortium for the purpose of advancing collaborative research on anger. We had a primitive website, a Facebook group, and a listserv. Due to increasing demands on our time and changes in university web hosting policies, we soon took down the website and abandoned the Facebook group. We still have the listserv, and while it has been inactive for some time, it will now be maintained by this lab.

In keeping with our original goals, the primary purpose of the listerv is to facilitate communication and collaborative research among persons interested in the scientific study of anger. Participation by clinicians interested in the treatment of persons with anger disorders is also welcome.

You can find the listserv at

David Boudreaux Defends Thesis on Attitudes Toward Anger Management

David Boudreaux, a second-year doctoral student working in the lab, successfully defended his master's thesis today. David's thesis, Attitudes Toward Anger Management Services, involved the development and initial validation of a new self-report instrument for assessing attitudes and stigma associated with anger management services.

The new measure, named the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale (ATAMS), was developed through exploratory factor analysis. Initial evidence of construct validity was provided through comparisons with measures of attitudes and stigma of more general psychological help seeking. Additional work to refine the measure and confirm the factor structure will be necessary, but we are encouraged by the initial results.

Lab to Deliver Free Presentation on Anger and Relational Aggression

anger management
Graduate students working in the lab are sharing their knowledge as part of an ongoing series of presentations sponsored by the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic.

On February 29, 2012, Emily Prather, David Boudreaux, and Caitlin Clark will present “Understanding Anger and Relational Aggression” at 6:30 PM on the University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus.

Learn about the difference between healthy and unhealthy anger, brief strategies for managing anger effectively, and when to seek help for yourself or a loved one. The presenters will also address relational aggression, a behavior associated with bullying in which the aggressor harms the victim’s reputation, status, or feelings of belonging through social exclusion, gossip, etc.). Learn about its relation to anger and its importance in the psychological well-being of adolescents and young adults.

The presentation will be held in Room 109 of Owings-McQuagge Hall. It is free and open to the public.

Anger Management Classes

The anger management program at the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic will soon begin offering anger management classes for persons age 18 and up. We recognize that many of the people referred to the clinic for anger management services do not need individual counseling and that a brief, psychoeducational approach may be useful.

This should be a great opportunity for students working in the lab and others in our program who completed anger management training to gain experience delivering evidence-based services in a group format.

Anger Management Content Training Successful

On Friday, I held a training session for students in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi interested in learning to provide evidence-based anger management services. This was the first training I had offered since completing certification with the National Anger Management Association and revising my materials to be consistent with their standards. It went well, and it looks like we've got a few who are interested in pursuing certification too.

In order for those who are interested and attended on Friday to apply for certification as an Anger Management Specialist I, they will need to complete the required supervision component. I plan to work on setting this up for the students who are enrolled in practicum first, as they may begin working with angry clients right away.

We're planning to begin offering anger management classes through the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic too, as soon as I finish writing the treatment protocol.

Lab Alum to Write for Psychology Today Blog

Dr. Ryan Martin
Dr. Ryan Martin, a former student who is now an Associate Professor of Human Development and Psychology at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, was recently invited to write a blog for Psychology Today.

Dr. Martin has been writing his own blog focused on anger, All the Rage, since October of 2010. Now his content will receive a much wider audience. Congratulations to Dr. Martin!

Anger Management Training for Counseling Psychology Students

I am in the process of finalizing training materials based on a curriculum approved by the National Anger Management Association (NAMA). I plan to hold a training for students in the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Southern Mississippi early in the Fall semester. This training is designed to satisfy the content portion of the requirements for certification by NAMA as an Anger Management Specialist I.

I hope to offer these trainings to a wider audience at some point; however, they will be limited to current students for the time being.

Help Seeking for Anger Problems

David Boudreaux, a first year doctoral student working in the lab, proposed his master's thesis today. David's thesis is titled Help Seeking for Anger Problems Among College Students.

Help Seeking for Anger Problems Among College Students

In spite of the importance of client motivation being widely recognized in the anger management literature, there have been surprisingly few studies examining motivation and readiness to change. Part of the problem is that we lack psychometrically sound instruments for assessing these constructs in the context of anger. David's thesis involves the development and initial validation of a new self-report scale designed to assess attitudes and intentions toward seeking anger management services.

NAMA Certification Complete

Receiving Distinguished Diplomate status from the National Anger Management Association (NAMA) allowed me to apply for certification as an Anger Management Specialist V. Based on NAMA’s review of my application and training materials, I have just been informed that I have received this certification. This allows me to train and supervise mental health professionals interested in pursuing NAMA certification.

I think this will be good for the Lab for a few reasons. First, competence in providing anger management services is a highly marketable skill for students entering the job market. A credential, while not yet necessary to provide services in many areas, communicates a level of training that many employers will take seriously. Second, once the NAMA authorized training program is up and running, credentialing will become much more affordable to graduate students working in the Lab. And third, such a training program may help with student and client recruitment.

Dr. Dahlen Receives Distinguished Diplomate Status From NAMA

I was recently honored to receive Distinguished Diplomate membership in the National Anger Management Association (NAMA) following board review.

NAMA is a non-profit professional organization working to advance anger management services and build community among those involved in the study and treatment of anger. Their mission includes improving the quality of anger management services available to the public, supporting mental health professionals who provide these services, and facilitating research on anger. NAMA provides leadership at the national level through their certification program, specialist directory, and research support.

I look forward to working with NAMA to promote the science and practice of anger management.

Preventing Problem Anger

The psychological literature supports the efficacy of brief cognitive-behavioral treatments for individuals with clinically dysfunctional anger who are receptive to treatment. Delivered individually or in the form of group therapy, these treatment protocols generally consist of 8-15 weekly sessions. Support for preventive approaches is less clear, and this is unfortunate because considerable harm could be prevented by addressing anger-related concerns earlier.

At the
Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab, we are working on a number of projects designed to inform the development and evaluation of such prevention programs. One of the first gaps in the literature we must address is the lack of appropriate measures for assessing attitudes and intentions around seeking professional help for anger-related concerns. We hope that by developing such measures, we can inform research and practice involving persons who may be at risk for developing problem anger but who have not yet sought assistance. In addition, we are starting work to develop a brief screening and intervention program for college students across the range of anger-related issues. Focusing on increasing awareness of the role anger plays in one’s life and helping students overcome obstacles to treatment, we hope to increase the utilization of early intervention strategies to minimize harm.

Managing Anger During the Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLV
If you have ever been to a Super Bowl party during a year when you were not particularly invested in the outcome of the game, you may have had the experience of watching people watch the game. That can sometimes me even more entertaining than the game itself. We have all seen someone overcome with anger when their team makes a mistake or a call does not go their way.

Just in time for Super Bowl XLV, Dr. Martin at All the Rage brings us some useful information on anger in the context of sports. In his article, “The Inciting World of Sports,” Dr. Martin tackles the question of why those of us who watch football and other sports sometimes get so angry that we may do stupid things.

As you might expect, Dr. Martin suggests that the propensity to anger in a sports context can be explained by many of the same psychological processes associated with anger in other contexts (e.g., tension, perceived unfairness). He also explores some that seem unique to sports viewership (e.g., the joy of “smack talk” when one’s team performs well).

Best of all, Dr. Martin offers concrete suggestions to help people cope when emotions run high during the big game. If you are planning to watch the Super Bowl this year and think you might benefit from a cooler-headed approach, you are likely to find something helpful in this article.

How to Choose an Anger Management Program

angry man
Although the scientific study of anger has received less attention than other emotional problems (e.g., anxiety or depression), there is evidence that some anger management programs are effective in reducing unhealthy anger and improving adaptive coping skills. Unfortunately, the quality of anger management programs is variable. Some are based on solid scientific research; others have not been subjected to study and may rely on unproven or even potentially harmful methods.

Anger Management

The best anger management programs are based on a cognitive-behavioral framework. Briefly, cognitive-behavioral theories tell us that our emotional reactions are often influenced by how we interpret events, rather than the events themselves. For example, when I become angry because the car in front of me is going too slow, the anger I experience is more closely tied to my beliefs about how others should drive (i.e., as quickly as I want them to) than it is to the situation itself.

Cognitive-behavioral anger management programs tend to focus on teaching individuals how to reduce their emotional and physiological arousal, think in less anger-provoking ways, and/or express their anger in more productive ways. Such programs often emphasize the development of self-control strategies.

Tips for Selecting an Anger Management Program

When selecting an anger management program, here are some things to consider:
  • Cognitive-behavioral programs tend to have the most research support and are both brief and cost effective. Many of these programs can be completed in as few as 8-12 counseling sessions.
  • Some practitioners still use methods that have been discredited and may cause harm. Programs that involve the uncontrolled, aggressive expression of anger (e.g., punching pillows or using foam bats to strike objects) may provide short-term relief but tend to increase the likelihood of future problems, including aggressive behavior.
  • Just because some anger management programs have research support does not mean that all practitioners will use them skillfully. It is important to be comfortable with the treatment provider you select.
  • Anger management is not designed to eliminate one's angry feelings or control others' behavior. Instead, it is aimed at helping the client reduce the intensity and frequency of their angry feelings and learn to express anger in more positive ways.

Unhealthy Anger

Despite its positive effects, anger also can get out of control, fueling aggression and leading to problems with one’s health, relationships, occupational performance, and overall quality of life.

In determining whether someone is experiencing the sort of anger that might lead to these problems, psychologists often assess the intensity, frequency, and duration of angry episodes, how someone expresses anger, and the type of consequences anger has produced. Such an evaluation can be very helpful in planning an effective course of treatment.

Of course, some people who have an anger problem already realize it. They may feel out of control or act in ways that seem uncontrolled or frightening to others. They may experience negative effects of their anger in important relationships, work, or other roles. And they have often had others express concerns about their anger.

All the Rage: A New Blog on the Science of Anger

Dr. Ryan Martin, a previous student of mine who is now an Associate Professor of Human Development and Psychology at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, has put together a new blog. Titled All the Rage, Dr. Martin's blog deals with the science of anger. He plans to use it as a vehicle for disseminating information to the public about the scientific study of anger. There is even a form that readers can use to submit questions.

I am happy to be an invited collaborator at
All the Rage. Misinformation about anger is so widespread that I think this could be a great resource.

Dr. Howard Kassinove Explains the Psychology of Anger

This is a great overview of the psychology of anger that is likely to be helpful for anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of how anger works and what effective anger management programs typically involve.


Healthy Anger

healthy lifestyle
Anger is a common emotion experienced by everyone. Surveys of college students and community adults show that most people feel at least mildly angry several times a week and that approximately 33% experience daily anger. Mild to moderate anger can energize individuals to address injustices, assert themselves, and solve problems. These positive effects remind us that the goal of anger management programs should not to eliminate one's experience of angry feelings. Without the ability to experience anger, one would be poorly equipped to meet many basic needs.

What is Anger?

Anger is an emotional state that ranges from minor frustration and annoyance to intense rage. It involves characteristic physiological, cognitive, and behavioral components.

At the physiological level, anger involves arousal of the autonomic nervous system. This is typically experienced as a rush of adrenaline, muscle tension, increased heart rate, and other sensations which are how our bodies prepare us for action.

Cognitively, anger involves the perception of some sort of threat to ourselves, our property, our self-image, or other areas with which we identify. During an angry episode, we are likely to perceive even neutral events as being intentional, unfair, and undeserved, making us even angrier.

The behavioral component of anger includes the manner in which anger is communicated. Some people tend to suppress their anger, holding it inside until they feel like they are going to boil over; others express their anger outwardly in uncontrolled displays yelling, slamming doors, or even threatening others.