An Empirical Note on Anger: Gender Differences in Perceived Justification

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Neff, Jeffrey A.
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Philosopher Marilyn Frye (1983) categorizes anger, a stereotypically male emotion, as a tool to declare one's own agency. This creates a problem when looking at the perceived justification, or uptake, of anger as it pertains to women. Frye hypothesizes that women's anger is generally not well received and therefore, women are marginalized and denied agency. Using a mixed model factorial design, participants' perceptions of anger were examined in three scenarios that varied by whether they were male-stereotypic, female-stereotypic, or not gender associated. Participants reported whether they believed the target's angry response was justified or was an overreaction. They also rated how likeable they found the target to be. Results showed a significant main effect for scenario on all three dependent measures, but ratings did not differ by target gender and the interaction between target gender and scenario was not significant. More research is needed to determine whether Frye's claims can be empirically supported.