Category: Anger

PS4- #C72 - Effects of Mindfulness and Distraction on Anger Rumination: A Randomized Control Experiment

Friday, Nov 17
12:15 PM – 1:15 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Anger / Irritability | Rumination | Mindfulness

Background No study has experimentally examined the effects of mindfulness on anger rumination. While Anderson et al. (2007) reported that mindfulness-based intervention decreased anger rumination, its mechanism was unclear. Anger rumination is defined as a tendency to engage in unintentional recurring thoughts about anger episodes in the past (Sukhodolsky, Golub, & Cromwell, 2001). To alleviate its negative effects on anger, it might be important to accept the thoughts without judging (Wright et al., 2009) or suppressing them. Mindfulness might help in accepting the thoughts, and thus reducing the frequency of anger-related thoughts.

Aims To examine whether mindfulness reduced the frequency of anger-related thoughts more than other emotion regulation strategies like distraction.

Methods Japanese undergraduates (N = 67, M age = 19.46 years, SD age = 1.17 years, range = 18 – 22 years; 76.1% female) participated in the study. Before the experiment, anger rumination was assessed using Anger Rumination Scale (ARS; Sukhodolsky et al., 2001). Participants engaged in 2 tasks: (a) free recall (2 min) and (b) emotion regulation strategy (5 min). In free recall, participants freely recalled a memory involving anger, and then reported the intensity of their current feeling of anger. Immediately after this, task (b) began, where participants were instructed to record anger-related thoughts when they occurred. Moreover, participants were randomly assigned to 3 conditions: mindfulness, distraction, and control. The project was approved by The Ethics Board of Psychological Research of Kansai University. All participants provided informed consent.

Results A 2 (high and low anger rumination condition) × 3 (mindfulness, distraction, and control Condition) ANOVA on frequency of anger-related thoughts indicated that the Group × Condition interaction was significant, F (2, 47) = 9.02, p < .001, ηp2 = .28. A simple main effect test showed that participants assigned to control condition had anger-related thoughts more than mindfulness (p = .002) and distraction (p < .001) in high anger rumination group.

Conclusions This study suggested that mindfulness and distraction decreased the frequency of anger-related thoughts (anger rumination) in high anger rumination group. Although research has revealed that mindfulness might alleviate anger rumination (e.g. Eisenlohr-Moul et al., 2016), this study was the initial evidence for the effects of experimentally manipulated mindfulness on anger rumination. Given these results, mindfulness may contribute to decreasing the frequency of anger-related thoughts. Though the sample size and manipulation check were insufficient, this study indicated that mindfulness may be effective for anger rumination.

Masaya Takebe

Kansai University
Suita, Osaka, Japan

Hiroshi Sato

Kwansei Gakuin University