In a recent study published in the Scientific Reports Journal, researchers examined the relationships between emotional constructs such as irritability, impulsivity, and anger. They investigated how these constructs impact the different domains of life, including satisfaction with life.
Study: The distinction between irritability and anger and their associations with impulsivity and subjective wellbeing. Image Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.com
Studying the associations between emotional constructs such as anger, impulsivity, and irritability and their effect on psychological well-being is often difficult because they lack clear definitions and validated tools to measure these constructs.
While there is some degree of overlap in the concept of these constructs, they are also distinct in other aspects, and often constructs such as anger and irritability are used interchangeably.
Irritability is an extreme sensitivity to external stimuli and a low response threshold resulting in aggression or anger. It is often associated with biological or physiological factors such as stress, hyperglycemia, pain, or lack of sleep.
On the other hand, anger is characterized by displeasure ranging from annoyance to fury and is triggered either by a personal insult or disrespect or a frustrating experience or situation.
The behavioral response is aggression, often directed at a person or object. Impulsivity is a broad term encompassing various, under-regulated, and quick responses to external and internal stimuli that do not consider the reactions' consequences.
About the study
In the present study, the researchers aimed to understand the relationships between the three emotional constructs of anger, impulsivity, and irritability. Secondly, the study to understand the link between the affective disposition variables of anger, impulsivity, and irritability and real-life outcome indicators such as the negative impact on various domains of life and overall satisfaction with life.
To address the first goal, the study attempted to determine how anger and irritability were psychometrically different using confirmatory factor analysis.
Furthermore, to understand the relationship between these three emotional constructs and real-life outcomes, they tested two hypotheses — 'the negative impact on various domains of life will correlate positively with the three emotional constructs,' and 'life satisfaction will be negatively correlated to the constructs of anger, impulsivity, and irritability.'
The study included 471 participants recruited through an online research platform and public library announcements at the University of Gothenburg's Department of Psychology.
The majority of the participants were women, while close to a quarter were men, and 0.8% identified as other genders. The average participant age was 33.16 years, and they had an average of 15.23 years of education. The current occupation of the group varied from being a student to being retired.
Data was gathered using an online questionnaire, which measured irritability, impulsivity, and anger and assessed outcomes such as satisfaction with life and the negative impact of the three emotional constructs on various domains in life.
Irritability was measured using the Brief Irritability Test, which measured irritability over the past two weeks using a six-point scale.
The State‑Trait Anger Expression Inventory‑2 is a 57-item inventory used to assess various aspects of anger, while multiple facets of impulsivity were measured using the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale.
Satisfaction in life was assessed using five statements to measure subjective well-being, and the participants were asked to rate the impact of each emotional trait on their work or studies, social interactions, and leisure activities.
The results reported that anger and irritability were negatively correlated with overall satisfaction in life and were believed to have a higher negative impact on various domains of life. At the same time, impulsivity displayed complex associations with life satisfaction.
While some aspects of impulsivity, such as sensation seeking, displayed a positive association with life satisfaction, other aspects, such as the lack of perseverance and urgency, were negatively associated with life satisfaction.
Although sensation seeking was positively associated with life satisfaction, indicating adaptive personality traits, the absence of premeditation associated with impulsivity was believed to have a negative impact on aspects such as work and studies.
However, the researchers believe further assessments using distinct non-clinical and clinical samples are required to interpret the findings.
The confirmatory factor analysis identified the constructs of anger and irritability to be different from each other. However, the researchers state that these findings should be interpreted, considering that irritability was measured largely as a state-oriented construct. In contrast, anger was measured according to behavioral patterns in the trait.
Additionally, exploratory moderation analysis revealed that only in the context of urgency was higher irritability a predictor of greater anger.
Overall, the findings indicated that the emotional constructs of anger and irritability were negatively correlated with life satisfaction and negatively impacted various domains of life, such as work or studies.
Some aspects of impulsivity, such as sensation seeking, were positively correlated to satisfaction in life, while urgency and low perseverance had a negative impact on life satisfaction. Although related, anger and irritability were identified as separate constructs.
Gröndal, M., Ask, K. and Winblad, S. (2023) "The distinction between irritability and anger and their associations with impulsivity and subjective wellbeing", Scientific Reports, 13(1). doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-37557-4. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-023-37557-4
Posted in: Medical Science News | Medical Research News | Miscellaneous News
Tags: Education, Hyperglycemia, Pain, Psychology, Research, Sleep, Stress
Dr. Chinta Sidharthan
Chinta Sidharthan is a writer based in Bangalore, India. Her academic background is in evolutionary biology and genetics, and she has extensive experience in scientific research, teaching, science writing, and herpetology. Chinta holds a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the Indian Institute of Science and is passionate about science education, writing, animals, wildlife, and conservation. For her doctoral research, she explored the origins and diversification of blindsnakes in India, as a part of which she did extensive fieldwork in the jungles of southern India. She has received the Canadian Governor General’s bronze medal and Bangalore University gold medal for academic excellence and published her research in high-impact journals.
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