The angry male and the passive female: The role of gender and self-esteem in anger expression

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Jana S. Nunn
Susan L. Thomas
Cite this article:  Nunn, J., & Thomas, S. (1999). The angry male and the passive female: The role of gender and self-esteem in anger expression. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 27(2), 145-154.


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To study the role of self-esteem and gender in anger expression, participants, who were screened for high or low self-esteem, were angered by a confederate.  Participants were then given the opportunity to express their anger by administering blasts of white noise to a confederate.  Men with low self-esteem exhibited anger-out anger reactions by administering the loudest blasts of white noise, while women with low self-esteem exhibited anger-in anger responses by administering the softest blasts of white noise.  High self-esteem men and women did not differ in their anger responses. These findings support the hypothesis that low self-esteem men and women rely upon socialized sex-role stereotypes when responding to anger. The implications of the findings are discussed in terms of their impact on therapy for maladaptive anger responses.


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