Enquiring into the qualitative nature of anger: Challenges and strengths of the introspective method

  • Benedikt HackertEmail author
  • Anna-Lena LummaEmail author
  • Paula Menzel
  • Terje Sparby
  • Ulrich Weger


Anger is known to be a negatively valenced emotion that can trigger different forms of harmful actions. Traditionally, it is studied from a third-person point of view using behavioural tasks or trait questionnaires. These methods can grasp outwardly observable behavioural expressions of anger but cannot tap into its experiential dimension. Hence, first-person approaches can be useful to get a more complete picture. In the current study we investigated the experiential facet of anger episodes using a first-person introspective approach. Findings from our introspective trial showed 1) that the anger experience can be subdivided into a cognitive, affective, somatic, and volitional component, 2) that anger unfolds in a temporal manner with distinct characteristical stages and 3) that anger can be inhibited through cognitive control strategies. While conducting our introspective research, we observed several methodological challenges of this particular method. An overview of how to deal with these issues is provided, thus contributing to anger research in both a theoretical and a methodological way.


Anger Emotions Affective Science Introspection First-Person Methods Phenomenology 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

This work only involved the researchers doing their own research. We confirm that the research conducted in this work was risk-free. All authors gave informed consent to their participation.

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and PsychotherapyUniversity of Witten/ HerdeckeWittenGermany
  2. 2.Carl von Ossietzky University OldenburgOldenburgGermany

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