Are you normal? Turning the other cheek – demographics of anger-related behavior

Bernice Kanner

Despite stories of people being attacked for slighting others, most Americans seem eager to avoid losing their temper. Only 23 percent of people say they openly express their anger. Thirty-nine percent do something to hide or contain the anger, while 23 percent walk away to give themselves a breather. But don’t count on always getting off scot-free after making someone mad. Twenty-three percent of adults say they’ve hit someone …… in a rage.

Americans’ thirst for vengeance may also be exaggerated, although there seems to be a bit of truth to the stereotype. Forty-three percent of respondents say that if someone physically hurt a loved one, they would try to hurt them back. Seventeen percent would not act and 41 percent don’t know how they feel.

Likewise, 67 percent of people say they would not exact revenge in other ways. But 17 percent admit they’d destroyed property of the person who angered them. Nine percent say they have filed charges or called the police and 7 percent admit they have made up something to get the person who provoked them in trouble.

And while the old silent treatment is hardly universal–26 percent say they keep speaking through arguments with loved ones–it is quite widespread. Twenty-one percent of respondents who have a big fight with a spouse, lover, or good friend typically stop talking to that person for a day or more, while 31 percent are stiff-lipped for an hour or so. Almost one in five (19 percent) withholds conversation for about five minutes. Three percent claim a serious row can sever communication for a week or more, while 1 percent say spats result in long-term alienation.

–Bernice Kanner

Author of Are You Normal? Data are based on an online survey conducted by CyberDialogue Market Researchers in New York City.

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COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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