Anger is regarded as a negative feeling and strong anger may result in damaged interpersonal relationships. Recently, the writing technique (i.e., Pennebaker & Beall , 1986), which is a cognitive technique, has been used to alleviate strong anger (Endo, 2009). However, the interpersonal aspect associated with anger arousal has not been considered in this technique. In fact, a different type of writing technique known as role lettering (RL; Haruguchi, 1987) may be appropriate for alleviating anger. RL inspired by the empty chair technique (Perls, 1969) is a cognitive technique where the self and imaginary other person write imaginary letters to each other. One important factor in RL is the relationship between the self who is writing the letter and the imaginary other. The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in the effects of RL targeting the angry other and RL targeting both the angry and receptive other on the modifications of anger in Japanese university students with high trait anger scores. There were 8 participants in the angry other RL (ARL) group, 8 in the mixed other RL (MRL) group and 10 in the control group. RL was performed, which consisted of sending a letter and replying to it (10 min. each), focusing on a situation involving anger, where in the ARL group, the other felt anger, and in the MRL group, the other felt anger but understood and supported the participants’ feelings. Both RL groups received interventions 4 times. No intervention was provided to the control group. The participants completed the same questionnaire during the pre and post treatments and the 2-week follow-up. For each measure, a two-way ANOVA was performed. Compared to the control group, the ARL group showed significant reduction in trait anger during the follow-up (F(4,46)=3.73, p < .01). Regarding anger rumination as a cognitive element, the interactions were significant (F(2,23)=2.60, p < .01), and the ARL group showed significantly higher scores than the MRL group in the post-treatment (p < .05). Meanwhile, the MRL group showed significant reduction compared to the control group during the follow-up (p < .05). Long-term RL with an angry other was effective in decreasing the trait anger after 2 weeks. On the other hand, the mixed other RL was, compared to the angry other RL, much more effective in the cognitive aspect of anger rumination. These findings suggest the importance of considering the interpersonal aspect when conducting the writing technique for anger reduction. Further studies examining the influence of the components of the RL on trait anger are needed.
Tomomi Kanetsuki– Associate Professor, School of Engineering, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, TOKYO DENKI UNIVERSITY, Adachi-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Masaru Kanetsuki– Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Socail Policy & Administration, HOSEI UNIVERSITY, Machida-shi, Tokyo, Japan
School of Engineering, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, TOKYO DENKI UNIVERSITY
Adachi-ku, Tokyo, Japan