Regulating Responses to Anger: Effects of Rumination and Distraction on Angry Mood

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Previous research has found that self-focused rumination maintains or increases depressed mood, whereas distraction decreases depressed mood (S. Nolen-Hoeksema & J. Morrow, 1993; S. Nolen-Hoeksema, J. Morrow, & B. L. Fredrickson, 1993). The present series of experiments examined these mood regulation strategies in the context of an angry mood. In Experiments 1 and 3, rumination increased anger, whereas distraction decreased or had no effect on anger. In Experiments 2 and 4, women were more likely to choose to ruminate when in a neutral mood but to distract themselves following induction of an angry mood. Men were equally likely to choose rumination or distraction, regardless of mood condition. The results are interpreted and discussed within the framework of an associative-network model of anger.

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