“I'm so mad I could scream:” The effects of anger expression on relational satisfaction and communication competence

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Most research on anger has focused on clinical intervention, psychological processes, and physiological effects rather than on how anger expression affects interpersonal relationships. This study investigates how four modes of expression (distributive‐aggression, integrative‐assertion, passive‐aggression, and nonassertive‐denial) are associated with perceptions of relational satisfaction and communiction competence. Results indicate that partner‐perceptions of integrative‐assertive anger expression are positively associated with relational satisfaction. Those viewed as expressing anger through integrative‐assertive means rather than through nonassertive‐denial were evaluated as communicatively competent by their partners. Results also demonstrate that self‐enhancing actor‐observer biases affect relational perceptions connected to anger expression. Both men and women rated themselves higher on communication competence and integrative‐assertion, and lower on nonassertive‐denial, than their partners rated them. Women also perceived themselves to use less aggression when dealing with anger than their partners perceived them to use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-141
Number of pages17
JournalSouthern Communication Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1994


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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