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Don’t Get Mad … But Your Anger May Not Have Much To Do With Your Health

A new study shows that Asian societies do not experience the same anger-poor health link prevalent among Western populations

Heather Cho, the disgraced Korean Air vice president who resigned after she angrily demanded a plane return to its gate at John F. Kennedy airport due to the way she was served nuts onboard, is used as an example of the anger-high status link in Asian cultures

For some cultures, expressing your anger is linked to good health. Published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, a new study tracks Japanese and American subjects, studying their cardiovascular health and inflammation markers as well as their anger. What results is a clear distinction. Americans with greater expression of anger tend to have a higher biological health risk, while Japanese with higher anger expression enjoy a lower biological health risk.

"The truism linking anger to ill health may be valid only within the cultural boundary of the 'West,' where anger functions as an index of frustration, poverty, low status, and everything else that potentially compromises health," writes Shinobu Kitayama, study co-author and psychological scientist at the University of Michigan.

Kitayama previously found that expression of anger could be seen a sign of social entitlement, wealth, and power in Asia, and those factors generally indicate better physical health. Angry outbursts in the West seem most often to reflect frustrating or negative circumstances that are also linked to poor health.

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