Interventions for managing anger Original paper

    In this meta-analysis of mostly randomized controlled trials, interventions that decreased physiological arousal (e.g., meditation, mindfulness, yoga) were effective at reducing anger. Interventions that increased physiological arousal (e.g., various sports and physical activities) did not consistently reduce anger.

    This Study Summary was published on May 16, 2024.

    Quick Summary

    In this meta-analysis of mostly randomized controlled trials, interventions that decreased physiological arousal (e.g., meditation, mindfulness, yoga) were effective at reducing anger. Interventions that increased physiological arousal (e.g., various sports and physical activities) did not consistently reduce anger.

    What was studied?

    The effect of emotional arousal-decreasing and arousal-increasing activities on anger levels.

    The outcomes assessed were anger, aggression, and hostility. These outcomes were assessed using various methods, including self-reported questionnaires, behavioral observation, and clinical interviews.

    Who was studied?

    A total of 10,189 participants, most of whom were from the United States or Western Europe.

    How was it studied?

    A meta-analysis of 154 clinical trials (the majority of which were randomized controlled trials) was performed. The investigators separately analyzed the effect of interventions that were considered arousal-decreasing and interventions that were considered arousal-increasing activities. The number of intervention sessions ranged from 1 to 274.

    Arousal-decreasing activities were defined as interventions that reduce emotional arousal and/or cardiovascular activity (e.g., heart rate). Studies that involved meditation, mindfulness, relaxation, and yoga were included in this category.

    Arousal-increasing activities included aggressive (e.g., kickboxing, screaming into a pillow, laser tag) and nonaggressive (e.g., pilates, jumping rope, jogging) activities.

    What were the results?

    Arousal-decreasing activities

    • Arousal-decreasing activities reduced anger, hostility, and aggression, each with a moderate effect size.
    • In subgroup analysis, all arousal-decreasing activities reduced anger, and meditation produced the largest reduction in anger.
    • In further subgroup analysis, studies that involved more sessions of arousal-decreasing activities led to greater reductions in anger

    Arousal-increasing activities

    • Arousal-increasing activities collectively had no effect on either anger, hostility, or aggression.
    • In subgroup analysis, arousal-increasing activities did not affect anger regardless of whether they were considered aggressive or nonaggressive.
    • In further subgroup analysis, some arousal-increasing activities, including jogging, seemed to increase anger, whereas other arousal-increasing activities, like ball sports, decreased anger. However, these findings were based on limited numbers of studies and/or approached statistical nonsignificance.

    This Study Summary was published on May 16, 2024.