Suppressed anger, evaluative threat, and cardiovascular reactivity: a tripartite profile approach

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Adaptation, Physiological; Adolescent; Adult; Aggression; Analysis of Variance; Anger; Blood Pressure; Cluster Analysis; Defense Mechanisms; Expressed Emotion; Guilt; Heart Rate; Hostility; Humans; Male; Reference Values; Repression, Psychology; Stress, Psychological


Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Circulatory and Respiratory Physiology | Medical Physiology | Mental and Social Health | Physiological Processes | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Despite decades of theory and research implicating suppressed anger in the development of cardiovascular disorders involving cardiovascular reactivity (CVR), to date the theoretical components of low anger expression, guilt feelings over agonistic reactions, and defensive strivings to avoid social disapproval have not been used conjointly to profile suppressed anger for the prediction of CVR. The purpose of this study, then, was to cluster analyze measures of anger expression, hostility guilt, and social defensiveness to create a suppressed anger profile (low anger expression, high hostility guilt, high social defensiveness) and a non-suppressed profile from a sample of college males. Social evaluative threat may be a potent stressor for people who defensively suppress anger expression. Thus, to examine the combined effects of suppressed anger and social evaluative threat, participants, prior to telling a story to a Thematic Apperception Card (TAT), were randomly assigned to either a high-threat (story will be compared to stories created by the mentally ill) or a low-threat condition (story used to study effects of talking on cardiovascular responses). Blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were monitored during a rest period and the subsequent TAT card period. As predicted, suppressed anger males in the high-threat condition showed the highest levels of diastolic BP and HR change from the rest period. The suppressed anger group's systolic BP reactivity was independent of threat manipulation. Research implications are discussed.

DOI of Published Version



Int J Psychophysiol. 2007 Nov;66(2):102-8. DOI 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2007.03.015. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

International journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology


At the time of publication, Monika Kolodziej was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

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Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID