Background and Objectives Recent research suggests that angry rumination augments aggressive behavior by depleting self-control resources. Yet, few studies have been conducted to empirically support this proposal. In the present study, we therefore sought to investigate the effects of angry rumination, relative to distraction, on self-reported anger and a behavioral indicator of self-control. Methods Seventy-two participants recalled and imagined an anger-inducing autobiographical memory and were instructed to engage in either angry rumination (n = 37) or distraction (n = 35). Following these emotion regulation instructions, participants performed an affective Go/NoGo task in order to assess behavioral self-control along with several questionnaires to assess anger related constructs. Results As expected, results revealed that angry rumination augmented anger, whereas anger decreased in the distraction condition. Contrary to predictions, we found no differences between both groups in performance on the affective Go/NoGo task. Limitations A potential limitation is we instructed our participants on how to regulate their emotions rather than letting angry rumination occur spontaneously. Conclusions The findings indicate that whereas angry rumination results in heightened anger, it does not seem to result in lower self-control as measured with a behavioral task that requires cognitive control. More research is needed to test the boundary conditions regarding the role of self-control in understanding rumination-induced aggression.

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Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry: a journal of experimental psychopathology
Department of Psychology

Lievaart, M., Huijding, J., van der Veen, F., Hovens, H., & Franken, I. (2017). The impact of angry rumination on anger-primed cognitive control. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry: a journal of experimental psychopathology, 54, 135–142. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2016.07.016