Anger suppression, ironic processes and pain

J Behav Med. 2007 Dec;30(6):455-69. doi: 10.1007/s10865-007-9127-2. Epub 2007 Aug 22.


Whether anger suppression exerts a causal influence on pain experience, and the mechanisms of such an influence, are not well understood. We report two experimental studies that examine the hypothesis that anger suppression paradoxically increases cognitive accessibility of anger, in turn coloring perceptions of succeeding pain in an anger-congruent fashion. The results of two experimental studies largely confirmed these predictions. Study 1 revealed that participants instructed to suppress emotions during anger-provocation experienced greater cold-pressor pain than those in the control condition. This difference was confined to perception of anger-specific qualities of pain. Study 2 replicated key findings of Study 1, but also provided partial evidence for increased cognitive accessibility of anger tied to anger suppression through self-report and modified dot-probe methodologies. Implications and limitations of these findings are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Affect*
  • Anger*
  • Expressed Emotion
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / diagnosis*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Social Control, Informal*