Hemodynamic measures at rest and in response to behavioral challenge: Investigating the roles of anger, affect intensity, and gender

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Patrice G. Sabb - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Philip M. McCabe - Committee Member


This study used impedance cardiographic techniques to explore the possible relationships among state anger, affect intensity, anger expression, gender, and cardiovascular measures at rest and in response to a laboratory behavioral challenge. Ninety-two normotensive Caucasian men and women between 25 and 54 years of age were evaluated. Blood pressure and heart rate, as well as stroke volume, cardiac output, myocardial contractility (as measured by the Heather Index), and total peripheral resistance were assessed at rest and during the talk phase of an evaluative speaking task.Overall, hierarchical regression analyses revealed that state anger is generally a good predictor of cardiovascular reactivity, with the significant blood pressure increases likely being the result of vascular mechanisms (i.e., increased TPR and decreased CO and SV). Moreover, affect intensity was not related to BP or HR reactivity, but it was predictive of increased myocardial responses (CO and SV) and decreased vascular responses (TPR). Interestingly, higher levels of affect intensity appeared to serve as a buffer when individuals were angered by the task, and this was particularly so for peripheral vascular reactivity measures (DBP and TPR). As a whole, anger-in and anger-out were not good predictors of cardiovascular levels at rest or during reactivity. With a few exceptions, age, BMI, and gender were generally found to be the best predictors of casual and baseline cardiovascular levels. Also, there were very few other gender effects found throughout the entire study.In general, the results of this study are discussed in terms of supporting a feasible link between anger and cardiovascular disease via enhanced peripheral vascular responses to anger-provoking situations. This study also suggests pathways by which one's usual temperamental characteristic of affect intensity may have both positive and negative influences on the cardiovascular system. Analytical and methodological limitations of this study are discussed, and future directions for research are suggested and supported by the results of this study.


Health Sciences, Mental Health; Psychology, Clinical; Psychology, Physiological

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