What is Anger? - Definition & Types

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

In this lesson we will learn about the complex emotion anger and the many different ways humans express it. Take a quiz after the lesson to test your knowledge.

Definition of Anger

Describing someone as 'angry' will bring up different visions depending on the listener's experience with this emotion. They might picture a grumpy grandfather complaining, a toddler throwing himself on the floor during a temper tantrum or a coworker refusing to compromise. All three of these examples are apt; they all entail outward expressions of a feeling called anger.

Anger can be defined as a feeling of annoyance, displeasure or antagonism. Think of a time you felt angry. It may have been because of personal circumstances - maybe someone harmed you or you felt very frustrated because you had so much work to do. It may have even been related to something that didn't happen to you directly. All of us experience the feeling of anger from time to time, but how we express this emotion can vary widely from individual to individual. Let's take a look at a few ways this works.

Anger is an emotion characterized by feelings of annoyance or displeasure.

Types of Anger

Anger is a surprisingly complex emotion. It can happen in many different circumstances for many different reasons. People can express it in a large variety of ways - imagine a sports fan yelling at the TV or a mother ignoring her sullen teenage daughter. It's even common for the same individual to react differently to the same situation at different times.

Because of these complexities, there is no solid agreement among psychologists about how many forms of anger there are or how to classify them. When talking about anger, experts often refer to methods of expression - passive, aggressive or assertive.

Passive Anger

The term passive anger, often referred to as passive-aggressive anger, explains the manner of dealing with angry emotions by, well, not dealing with them. People with this expression style often avoid dealing with situations that make them angry and instead try to keep the feelings inside. However, anger is still expressed by passive-aggressive individuals. They tend to channel their ire into behaviors like making judgmental comments, spreading rumors or holding grudges.

Let's imagine an example. A husband and wife are watching TV. The husband, Jack, wants to watch his favorite TV show. Sue, the wife, would like to watch a movie. Though Jack has been waiting for this TV show to air for several weeks, he agrees to watch the movie. The anger he feels isn't expressed to Sue, but instead he holds it inside because he doesn't want to argue. Later Jack snaps at Sue when she asks him a question about his job and then sulks when Sue asks him what's wrong. Jack is expressing his anger in a passive way.

Aggressive Anger

Unlike passive anger, aggressive anger is expressed outwardly. Aggressively angry individuals yell or commit acts of physical violence. Oftentimes, aggressively angry people want to destroy property or inflict pain on others to somehow retaliate for the perceived injustice they've endured.

Following on from our earlier example, let's say Jack doesn't agree that Sue can watch her movie, but instead insists it is his turn to make the decision about what they watch on TV. Sue then yells at Jack, hurling insults at him, and then throws a vase at the wall. Sue's intention is to release the anger by inflicting harm elsewhere.

One way anger is expressed is aggressively.

Assertive Anger

Assertive anger is communicated calmly. People who express their anger assertively want to work through the emotion and come to a resolution. Their wording is direct and straightforward. Anger is not repressed but controlled.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account