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Male Anger vs. Female Anger

Learn how male anger and female anger tend to differ from anger management expert Dr. J. Ryan Fuller in this Howcast video.

Transcript

Frequently, whenever scientists and lay people alike, are considering issues around anger or really anything, we want to look at what the gender differences are. And when it comes to anger and aggression, I think the typical assumption is that there are big differences between anger in men and women. Now while it may be less acceptable in certain cultures for women to express anger in the same ways that men do, there seems to be a lot more similarities. In fact, when we look at the types of triggers that set people off, in terms of anger, they seem to be the same, whether it's for men or for women. In terms of the experienced frequency and intensity of anger, men and women do not differ. One symptom that is reported that is a little different in survey research is that women do report crying as a symptom of anger episodes more than men, but again, that's self-report data and we're not sure if men maybe just aren't reporting that.

But other than that, their symptom experiences are the same and the frequency and intensity is the same. We do know that anger is something, at high levels, that in fact seems to predict all-cause mortality and especially things around cardiac issues. So heart attacks and stroke are problematic. And we know this is a leading cause of death for women as well as men. So we want to make sure that by assuming women don't have anger management issues, we aren't neglecting to provide research and treatment to a whole lot of people who could benefit and hopefully reduce the likelihood of death by a heart attack or stroke. One other assumption that's often made has to do with aggression between men and women. Interestingly, there have been a number of studies done in different countries and it appears that even with regard to physical aggression, women do not differ in terms of frequency, with how often physical aggression occurs.

In fact, many studies show that they're equivalent and in a few studies women have actually shown higher frequencies of physical aggression. But let's be clear. The intensity of that aggression is usually much lower. So when men are physically aggressive, they're doing much more intense damage and so that might result in, if it's an intimate partner, and it's a heterosexual nature, of women being the victims of more serious assaults. But in terms of frequency, again, they're closer than we might think. And again, what that means is that there might be a lot of women who could really benefit from anger management. So we don't want to assume this is a male problem. We also want to make sure that women recognize that feeling angry is a very valid experience and we just want to make sure that women, just the same as men, learn how to manage, modulate that, or experience it and at least behave in ways that are adaptive and good for them.

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