The effect of anger expression style on cardiovascular responses to lateralized cognitive stressors.

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To determine the effects of self-reported anger expression style on cerebrally lateralized physiological responses to neuropsychological stressors, changes in systolic blood pressure and heart rate were examined in response to a verbal fluency task and a figural fluency task among individuals reporting either "anger in" or "anger out" expression styles. Significant group by trial interaction effects was found for systolic blood pressure following administration of verbal fluency [F(1,54) = 5.86, p < 0.05] and nonverbal fluency stressors [F(1,54) = 13.68, p < .001]. Similar interactions were seen for systolic heart rate following administration of verbal fluency [F(1,54) = 5.86, p < .005] and nonverbal fluency stressors [F(1,54) = 13.68, p < .001]. The corresponding results are discussed in terms of functional cerebral systems and potential implications for physiological models of anger. Given the association between anger and negative physical health outcomes, there is a clear need to better understand the physiological components of anger. The results of this experiment indicate that a repressive "anger in" expression style is associated with deregulation of the right frontal region. This same region has been shown to be intimately involved in cardiovascular recovery, glucose metabolism, and blood pressure regulation.

Anger, Brain asymmetry, Cardiovascular response, Hostility, Laterality