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Influence of culture on cardiovascular response to anger provocation Anderson, Jeremy C.

Abstract

The objective of this research was to determine whether, and to what extent, culture may influence response to anger provocation. For Study One, 67 psychology undergraduates comprised of 34 English-speaking Canadians (29 females, 5 males) and 33 Cantonese-speaking Chinese/Chinese-Canadians (26 females, 7 males) completed a questionnaire package including measures of acculturation, self-construal, and preferred response to anger. As predicted, the English group was more likely to endorse a strategy of overt anger expression than was the Cantonese group, who were more likely than English speakers to endorse a strategy of either distraction or making a less hostile reappraisal. For Study Two, the main study, 122 psychology undergraduates comprised of 60 English-speaking Canadians (33 females, 27 males) and 62 Cantonese-speaking Chinese/Chinese-Canadians (38 females, 24 males) underwent an anger-provocation task (serial 7’with harassment) while their blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were monitored. Following anger provocation, participants either were given the opportunity to overtly express their anger (Expression group) or were left alone (Non-expression group) while their BP and HR continued to be monitored. It was hypothesized that for those in the Expression group, rate of BP and HR recovery would not differ between cultural groups but for those in the Non-expression group, the Cantonese group would show faster recovery than the English group, the result of differential opportunity to utilize their preferred anger response strategy. Contrary to these hypotheses, it was found that the Cantonese group generally showed faster systolic BP recovery than the English group across anger expression conditions. Results suggest that: (1) culture plays a significant role in responding to anger, and that, at least for the Cantonese group, its role may be mediated via self-construal, consistent with the model proposed by Markus and Kitayama (1991), and (2) continued attentional focus to an anger-provoking event can result in attenuated cardiovascular recovery.

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