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Psychol Rep. 2001 Dec;89(3):731-9.

Anger vs guilt: inference of responsibility attribution and interpersonal reactions.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Japan.


This study examined reactions toward an expression of anger or guilt. Participants' reactions were assessed after their partner for a collaborative task expressed anger or guilt due to failure on the task. Analysis indicated that participants inferred the attribution of responsibility made by the partner based on the expressed emotions; anger elicited an inference that the partner attributed the failure to the participant, while guilt led to an inference that the partner attributed the failure to the self. Further, expressers of anger were perceived as having more negative traits and were avoided more than those who expressed guilt. Discussion considered negative interpersonal effect of an expression of anger.

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