Psychophysiological responses to anger provocation among Asian Indian and white men

  • Sonia Suchday
  • Kevin T. Larkin


To examine cultural differences in response to anger provocation, affective, cognitive, behavioral, and cardiovascular responses to social confrontation, role plays were measured in 20 Indian male immigrants in the United States and 40 White men. Participants engaged in 2 interactions with a nonacquiescent male confederate and were instructed to suppress or express their anger in counterbalanced order. Following each role play, participants state anger, and resentful and reflective cognitions pertaining to anger were assessed. Participants’ videotaped behavioral responses were assessed for problem-solving skills and negative and positive verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Blood pressure and heart rate (HR) responses were recorded throughout the session. Results revealed that Indian participants used more introspective strategies comprising of repression and rational coping self-statements to anger provocation than their White counterparts. White participants experienced significantly higher HR responses and showed more awareness of physiological sensation compared to the Indian participants, but only when asked to exhibit their anger. Indian participants had a faster diastolic blood pressure (DBP) recovery when allowed to engage in anger inhibition (which is a culturally determined mode of functioning) compared to when they had to exhibit anger before inhibiting it. White men showed a heightened cardiac response to anger expression, something not seen among Indian men. Indian men, in contrast, exhibited delayed DBP recovery from anger expression and increased introspective cognitive strategies when asked to engage in anger exhibition, a behavior not congruent with their culture of origin.

Key words

anger expression culture cardiovascular reactivity coping self-statements role-play assessment 


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ferkauf Graduate School of PsychologyClinical Health Psychology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Yeshiva UniversityBronx
  2. 2.Department of XXXWest Virginia UniversityWest Virginia

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