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anger, early adolescents, emotions, stress, traits



  1. Yarcheski, Adela
  2. Mahon, Noreen E.
  3. Yarcheski, Thomas J.


Background: Anger is an especially important phenomenon to understand in early adolescents. While many explanatory theories of state anger can be applied to early adolescents, few, if any, researchers have attempted to test these theories in this age group.


Objective: To test three theories explaining state anger vis-a-vis each other using hierarchical analysis of sets.


Method: This was a theory-testing study with a complex correlational design. A total of 141 adolescents aged 12 to 14 years responded to the State Anger Scale and instruments measuring variables linked to stress theory (perceived stress and primary appraisal), differential emotion theory (depression and state anxiety), and trait theory (trait anger and hostility), that were randomly ordered across instrument packets.


Results: Using hierarchical analysis of sets, the results indicated that the sets of variables used to test all three theories explained a statistically significant proportion of variance in state anger when entered first in the analysis. Comparatively, the trait theory variables explained more variance in state anger when entered first (41%) in the analysis than did the emotion theory variables when entered first (31%) in the analysis or the stress theory variables when entered first (21%) in the analysis.


Conclusions: The stress theory, the differential emotion theory, and the trait theory all provided theoretically sound and relevant explanations of state anger for early adolescents. However, the trait theory provided the most powerful explanation.