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Is Anger Hereditary?

Learn if anger is hereditary from anger management expert Dr. J. Ryan Fuller in this Howcast video.

Transcript

Often times I asked if angry parent are going to produce angry children? While there isn't specific evidence that a particular biological factor is necessarily genetic in nature that sort of guarantees a child is going to be angry, there may be some temperamental things that are passed on. Things like general neuroticism or inattention that might make angry or aggressive behaviors more likely in children who have parents with those kind of traits that might be biological in nature. But for the most part what's critical and it does matter who your parents are are the angry behaviors that are displayed or modeled by those parents. That children watch and experience.

So there is lots of evidence that in the laboratory and we see this clinically as well that parents who demonstrate how anger and aggression might work to coerce or get compliance from their children those children might learn those strategies in their own lives dealing with peers. Likewise if someone has an anger management problem and not are they demonstrating that. They're likely not utilizing strategies that are sort of effective for coping with anger. And so they're not modeling the pro social tools that children need to learn. And what we've seen by some studies done decades ago is that children in fact do learn readily by adults modeling these behaviors.

One of the original studies was done on something, a toy that many of us might of grown up with called the Bobo Doll. Which was basically this inflatable clown toy that's punched. And what happened is we actually, the social scientists that did this study, they actually had children observe an adult come into the room and punch the doll. And simply from watching the adult they learned to take on this behavior. They didn't have to be reinforced for punching something themselves. Merely by watching an adult do it they adopted that strategy. So without question certainly the way families interact, the kind of models they provide, has a huge implications for the kinds of anger management strategies and aggressive behaviors that a child might
adopt.

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