The bidirectional associations between state anger and rumination and the role of trait mindfulness

Aggress Behav. 2017 Jul;43(4):342-351. doi: 10.1002/ab.21693. Epub 2016 Dec 5.


Rumination is associated with exacerbated angry mood. Angry moods may also trigger rumination. However, research has not empirically tested the bidirectional associations of state rumination and anger, as experience sampling methodology can do. We predicted that state anger and rumination would be bi-directionally associated, both concurrently and over time, even controlling for trait anger and rumination. In addition, because mindfulness is associated with rumination and anger at the bivariate level, we examined the effect of trait mindfulness on the bidirectional association between state rumination and anger. We examined two hypotheses: (i) state rumination mediates the effect of trait mindfulness on state anger; and (ii) trait mindfulness weakens, or moderates, the bidirectional associations between state rumination and anger. In an experience-sampling study, 200 college students reported their current ruminative thinking and angry mood several times a day for 7 days. Mixed model analyses indicated that state anger and rumination predicted each other concurrently. In cross-lagged analyses, previous anger did not uniquely predict current rumination; previous rumination predicted current anger, although the effect was small. In support of our hypothesis, state rumination mediated the association between trait mindfulness and state anger. Additionally, trait mindfulness moderated the concurrent and cross-lagged associations between state rumination and anger, although the results were complex. This study contributes new information about the complex interplay of rumination and anger. Findings also add support to the theory that mindfulness decreases emotional reactivity. Aggr. Behav. 43:342-351, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: anger; experience sampling; mindfulness; rumination.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anger / physiology*
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mindfulness*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Personality / physiology*
  • Rumination, Cognitive / physiology*
  • Young Adult