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Ann Behav Med. 2010 Jun;39(3):211-21. doi: 10.1007/s12160-010-9182-8.

Anger suppression predicts pain, emotional, and cardiovascular responses to the cold pressor.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.



Manipulated anger suppression has been shown to heighten pain and anger responses to pain.


We examined whether individual differences in self-reported anger suppression predicted pain, anger, and blood pressure responses to acute pain.


Healthy participants (N = 47) underwent an anger-provoking speech task followed by a cold pressor pain task. Participants reported their degree of suppression of thoughts and feelings related to the speech. Pain intensity ratings were obtained throughout the cold pressor. Self-reported anger, anxiety and positive emotion, as well as ratings of sensory, general distress, and anger-specific elements of pain were obtained following the cold pressor. Systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and heart rate (HR) were recorded throughout.


Self-reported suppression predicted greater pain intensity ratings, perception of sensory and anger-specific elements of pain, and self-reported anger in response to the cold pressor. Associations between self-reported suppression and pain intensity and ratings of anger-specific elements of pain were statistically mediated by pain-induced changes in self-reported anger, whereas the effect of suppression on sensory pain ratings was not. Self-reported suppression was also correlated inversely with SBP responses to the cold pressor.


Consistent with an ironic process model and prior studies involving experimental manipulation of suppression, self-reported suppression of anger predicted greater pain intensity and perception of the anger-specific element of pain. Findings also suggest that suppression might attenuate homeostatic pressor responses to acute pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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