PERSONALITY UNDER STRESS: WHO GETS ANGRY AND WHY? : INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE APPRAISAL AND EMOTION by Tanja WRANIK (PDF)
Anger is one of the most powerful human emotions and has generally been associated with adverse social, psychological, and physical consequences. In addition, past research has shown that some types of persons are more likely to experience, report, or express anger than others. However, it remains unclear why some individuals report anger more frequently than others in certain types of situations, such as workplace stress and conflict.
Cognitive appraisal theorists generally agree that anger is related to evaluations of high goal relevance, obstruction of an important goal, and blame. We conducted three experiments in a carefully designed emotion induction procedure of potential workplace conflict, a dyadic social intelligence test, and examined if a particular individual difference variable, explanatory style, would systematically influence cognitive evaluations related to causal attribution and blame.
We predicted that individuals who generally attribute causality of negative situations externally (Externals) would be more likely to blame the partner for poor performance in the test and to report anger than those who generally attribute causality of negative situations internally (Internals).
Although we found that Externals were more likely to blame the partner than Internals, we also found that Internals reported more anger than Externals. However, anger reported by Internals was primarily directed at the self, whereas anger reported by Externals was often directed at the interaction partner.
Other results suggest that blaming may be an emotion regulation strategy. Question related to the object of anger are examined in detail, and the theoretical and practical implications of these findings for appraisal theories of emotion and organizational psychology are discussed.
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