Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Kevin Howells

Second Advisor

Dr Neil Drew

Abstract

Anger is a commonly experienced emotion popularly thought to differ for men and women. However, because of definitional confusion and methodological limitations, there has been little useful empirical exploration of these differences. Current research findings on anger have, further, been limited by being based on non-random convenience samples of students and clinical populations. Research has produced inconclusive evidence for the effect of gender differences on measures of anger. Gender role identification has been identified as possible influencing factor. In the current study, the author drew a random sample from the general population of a small Australian city. Participants (n = 361) were 158 males and 203 females with a mean age of 36.6 years. Three separate analyses were conducted with the first exploring the influence of gender, and gender role identification on trait measures of anger experience, expression and control. Males and females were found to experience and express anger in similar ways. Participant gender identification was found to significantly affect measures of trait anger. Participants identified as feminine measured low in trait anger and indicated the tendency to internalise and control anger. Conversely, masculine participants were characterised by high trait anger and the tendency to express anger outwardly reporting lower anger control. Androgynous participants were characterised by low trait anger, the tendency to express anger outwardly and greater control. In the second and third analysis the effect of the gender of the target was investigated as an additional independent variable within two differing situational contexts. In these analyses participant gender was again found not to significantly influence state measures of anger, anger experience and expression. Similarly the effects of gender role identification were replicated. Gender of the target of one's anger had weak a effect, being found to interact with the gender of the participant. Males reported higher outward anger expression to male targets whilst female participants moderated their expression of anger in the presence of a male target. In summary, the research clearly demonstrated that gender itself has no relationship to anger experience and expression. Gender role identification was found to have a consistent impact. The situational variable of gender of the target had little effect on anger measures, though a significant interaction between participant gender and gender of the target was found. The overall pattern of results was discussed in relation to current theory and clinical practice. Future research directions were posited.

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