Hostility, Anger, Aggressiveness, and Coronary Heart Disease: An Interpersonal Perspective on Personality, Emotion, and Health

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Journal of Personality (Impact Factor: 2.44). 01/2005; 72(6):1217-70. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2004.00296.x
Source: PubMed


The related traits of hostility, anger, and aggressiveness have long been suggested as risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD). Our prior review of this literature (Smith, 1992) found both considerable evidence in support of this hypothesis and important limitations that precluded firm conclusions. In the present review, we discuss recent research on the assessment of these traits, their association with CHD and longevity, and mechanisms possibly underlying the association. In doing so, we illustrate the value of the interpersonal tradition in personality psychology (Sullivan, 1953; Leary, 1957; Carson, 1969; Kiesler, 1996) for not only research on the health consequences of hostility, anger, and aggressiveness, but also for the general study of the effects of emotion, personality and other psychosocial characteristics on physical health.

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Available from: John M Ruiz
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    • "Anger has been described in terms of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral features, and several anger questionnaires attempt to capture these different aspects (Eckhardt et al., 2004; Owen, 2011; Smith et al., 2004). However, most investigations of the clinical correlates of anger have limited their focus to those correlates of aggregate measures of trait anger, failing to examine whether there are specific aspects of anger that show differential relations to common psychiatric problems. "
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    ABSTRACT: Anger is an emotion consisting of feelings of variable intensity ranging from mild irritation to intense fury. High levels of trait anger are associated with a range of psychiatric, interpersonal, and health problems. The objectives of this study were to explore heterogeneity of anger as measured by the Spielberger Trait Anger Scale (STAS), and to assess the association of the different anger facets with a selection of psychiatric disorders covering externalizing and internalizing problems, personality disorders, and substance use. Factor mixture models differentiated between a high and low scoring class (28% vs. 72%), and between three factors (anger-temperament, anger-reaction, and immediacy of an anger response). Whereas all psychiatric scales correlated significantly with the STAS total score, regressing the three STAS factors on psychiatric behaviors model showed a more detailed pattern. Only borderline affect instability and depression were significantly associated with all three factors in both classes whereas other problem behaviors were associated only with 1 or 2 of the factors. Alcohol problems were associated with immediacy only in the high scoring class, indicating a non-linear relation in the total sample. Taking into account these more specific associations is likely to be beneficial when investigating differential treatment strategies.
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    • "The physiological expression of anger and hostility has been recognised as important in psychosomatic medicine and health (Smith et al., 2004). Effects of anger on physiological parameters are potentially pathoaetiological in the genesis of cardiovascular disease and hypertension, yet are subject to individual differences . "
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    ABSTRACT: Emotion and cognition are dynamically coupled to bodily arousal: The induction of anger, even unconsciously, can reprioritise neural and physiological resources toward action states that bias cognitive processes. Here we examine behavioural, neural and bodily effects of covert anger processing and its influence on cognition, indexed by lexical decision-making. While recording beat-to-beat blood pressure, the words ANGER or RELAX were presented subliminally just prior to rapid word/non-word reaction-time judgements of letter-strings. Subliminal ANGER primes delayed the time taken to reach rapid lexical decisions, relative to RELAX primes. However, individuals with high trait anger were speeded up by subliminal anger primes. ANGER primes increased systolic blood pressure and the magnitude of this increase predicted reaction time prolongation. Within the brain, ANGER trials evoked an enhancement of activity within dorsal pons and an attenuation of activity within visual occipitotemporal and attentional parietal cortices. Activity within periaqueductal grey matter, occipital and parietal regions increased linearly with evoked blood pressure changes, indicating neural substrates through which covert anger impairs semantic decisions, putatively through its expression as visceral arousal. The behavioural and physiological impact of anger states compromises the efficiency of cognitive processing through action-ready changes in autonomic response that skew regional neural activity. © The Author (2015). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email:
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
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    • "Indeed, most if not all individual difference variables directly relevant to interpersonal functioning – including agreeableness, anger, empathy, extraversion, femininity, Machiavellianism, masculinity, narcissism, etc. – can be understood in terms of their coordinates within the interpersonal circumplex space (see Plutchik and Conte 1997, for an edited volume). Further, the interpersonal circumplex serves as a common currency in linking up constructs and findings from a number of different literatures (Smith, Glazer, Ruiz, and Gallo 2004). We sought to locate tendencies toward implicit self-importance in this interpersonal space using well-validated markers for different areas of the circumplex. "
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    ABSTRACT: Object relations theories emphasize the manner in which the salience/importance of implicit representations of self and other guide interpersonal functioning. Two studies and a pilot test (total N = 304) sought to model such representations. In dyadic contexts, the self is a “you” and the other is a “me”, as verified in a pilot test. Study 1 then used a simple categorization task and found evidence for implicit self-importance: The pronoun “you” was categorized more quickly and accurately when presented in a larger font size, whereas the pronoun “me” was categorized more quickly and accurately when presented in a smaller font size. Study 2 showed that this pattern possesses value in understanding individual differences in interpersonal functioning. As predicted, arrogant people scored higher in implicit self-importance in the paradigm. Findings are discussed from the perspective of dyadic interpersonal dynamics.
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