Interactive effects of trait hostility and anger expression on cardiovascular reactivity in young men

Stephen Bongard, Mustafa Al'Absi, William R. Lovallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Hostility and anger-expression style are personality traits often associated with elevated cardiovascular reactivity and potential heightened risk for cardiovascular disease. In the present study a sample of 50 young, healthy men were divided into groups low or high on the Cook-Medley Hostility scale and on anger-out from Spielberger's Anger Expression scale. Subjects worked on mental arithmetic and public speaking tasks in counterbalanced order. Heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and hemodynamic indices were measured at baseline and during the tasks. Hostility and anger-out interacted in their effects on cardiovascular responses. The High Anger-Out/Low-Hostile group displayed the greatest increases in heart rate and blood pressures, while the High Anger-Out/High-Hostile group was least reactive. Furthermore, the High Anger-Out/Low-Hostile group showed a distinct fight/flight decrease in systemic vascular resistance. These results suggest that a mismatch between hostile cognitions and habitual anger expression leads to greater cardiovascular reactivity to challenging tasks, potentially enhancing risk for development of cardiovascular diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-191
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by the Grant HL32050 from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Mind–Body Interactions and the Medical Research Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Anger expression
  • Blood pressure
  • Hostility
  • Mental stress


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