A different view of anger: the cognitive-neoassociation conception of the relation of anger to aggression

Aggress Behav. Jul-Aug 2012;38(4):322-33. doi: 10.1002/ab.21432.


The common, everyday understanding of anger is problematic in a number of respects-in its inattention to the prototypic nature of this emotional state; in its failure to recognize the important role often played by the critical event's aversiveness; and in its neglect of the frequently close connection between anger arousal and aggression-related motor impulses. This article discusses all of these matters from the point of view of my cognitive-neoassociation perspective [Berkowitz, 1990, 1993, 2010; Berkowitz and Harmon-Jones, 2004]. The role of automatic, nonconscious reactions is considered, and it is also emphasized that angry feelings are linked to approach motivation-movement toward the perceived source of the anger. The article also briefly summarizes relevant research dealing with the self-regulation of anger reactions. This broad review hopefully will prompt further inquiries into the arousal, nature, and operation of anger.

Keywords: aggression cognitive-neoassociation model; aggressive motivation; anger; automatic reactions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aggression*
  • Anger*
  • Arousal
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male