If you find yourself getting a little hot under the collar sometimes and can’t figure out why, a University of Toronto sociology professor might have some answers.
“On average, people in their 20s and 30s report more anger than those in their 40s, 50s and older,” said Scott Schieman, author of a chapter in the International Handbook of Anger, to be published this month.
Schieman studied a national survey of 1,000 Americans aged 18 and over and discovered the strongest predictor of anger was a feeling of being rushed for time and those in their 20s and 30s experience this feeling more often than older adults.
People in this age group are busy setting up their lives, putting long hours into their jobs and starting families, he suggested, all of which contribute to time pressure.
And although older adults may experience similar time pressures, they have learned how to better manage their time to avoid the feelings of frustration and anger.
Economic hardship and conflict in the workplace are also core stressors that elevate anger levels and may be experienced more often by younger adults.
Another one of Schieman’s main findings was that people with children reported feelings of anger more often.
“Simply having children in the household is connected to higher levels of anger,” Schieman said.
Having children in the household is associated with angry feelings and behaviour (i.e., yelling) and these patterns are stronger among women compared with men.
Finally, an individual’s level of education may contribute to how often they experience anger, he said.
Compared with people with fewer years of education, the well educated are less likely to experience anger and when they do, they are more likely to act proactively by trying to change the situation or talking it over.
Schieman hopes to repeat parts of the study he based his findings on in Canada; he said he expects Canadians experience anger in much the same way as their American counterparts but would be interested to note any differences.
“The sociological analysis of anger can shed light on the ways that the conditions of society influence emotional inequality,” said Schieman. “Why do some people seem to experience more anger than others? And what does this say about social inequality and its impact in our everyday lives?”
The International Handbook of Anger is edited by Michael Potegal, Gerhard Stemmler and Charles Spielberger.