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Powerless people don't yell but tell: The effects of social power on direct and indirect expression of anger

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


--- - |2 Abstract Expressing anger can engender desired change, but it can also backfire. In the present research we examined how power shapes the expression of anger. In Study 1, we found that powerless individuals were less inclined to express their anger directly but more inclined to express it indirectly by sharing it with others. Powerless participants’ reluctance to express anger directly was mediated by negative social appraisals. In Study 2, we replicated the effect of power on direct anger expression in a situation in which participants had actual power (or not). Anger was evoked in the laboratory using an ecologically valid procedure, and participants were given an opportunity to express anger. Study 3 showed that powerless participants expected direct anger expression to arouse more anger than fear in the target, whereas the opposite was true for indirect anger expression. Powerful participants always expected to elicit more fear than anger in the target. - European Journal of Social Psychology, EarlyView.