Anger Style, Psychopathology, and Regional Brain Activity

Jennifer L. Stewart, Rebecca Levin-Silton, Sarah M. Sass, Wendy Heller, Gregory A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Depression and anxiety often involve high levels of trait anger and disturbances in anger expression. Reported anger experience and outward anger expression have recently been associated with left-biased asymmetry of frontal cortical activity, assumed to reflect approach motivation. However, different styles of anger expression could presumably involve different brain mechanisms and/or interact with psychopathology to produce various patterns of brain asymmetry. The present study explored these issues by comparing resting regional electroencephalographic activity in participants high in trait anger who differed in anger expression style (high anger-in, high anger-out, both) and participants low in trait anger, with depression and anxiety systematically assessed. Trait anger, not anger-in or anger-out, predicted left-biased asymmetry at medial frontal EEG sites. The anger-in group reported higher levels of anxious apprehension than did the anger-out group. Furthermore, anxious apprehension moderated the relationship between trait anger, anger-in, and asymmetry in favor of the left hemisphere. Results suggest that motivational direction is not always the driving force behind the relationship of anger and left frontal asymmetry. Findings also support a distinction between anxious apprehension and anxious arousal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-713
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • EEG
  • anger
  • brain asymmetry
  • psychopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Anger Style, Psychopathology, and Regional Brain Activity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this