Resentful and Reflective Coping with Arbitrary Authority and Blood Pressure: Detroit

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Two hypotheses about coping with an arbitrary authority, an angry boss, were tested: (1) styles of handling anger vary with social status, and (2) these styles are in turn related to blood pressure levels. Two styles of coping were tested: model R-R, Resentful vs. Reflective, and model I/O/R, Anger-In, Anger-Out, and Reflective. Handling an angry boss by Reflection is reported by more women than men, by those in middle-class areas rather than lower class, and does not vary by race. Working class report more use of Anger-Out than middle class who in turn report more use of Reflection. In general, the Anger-In response did not vary by race, sex, or area of residence (12-18%). For model R-R, Reflection of boss's anger was related to lower blood pressure when compared to Resentful responses, within sex, race, and residence groups. For model I/O/R, working-class, high stress persons who expressed Anger-Out showed the highest mean levels. Reflection is an appraisal response related to vascular and neural deceleration in stress experiments. This mode can be learned, and may aid in handling daily emotional-loaded stimuli to control blood pressure, along with learning a relaxation response.

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