When Is Anger Helpful or Hurtful? Status and Role Impact on Anger Expression and Outcomes

  • Ronda Roberts Callister
  • Deanna Geddes
  • Donald F. Gibson


Anger expressers and targets often experience anger as an unpleasant and potentially damaging emotion. However, emerging social functional perspectives on workplace anger suggest that anger expressions can promote valued dialogue, facilitating the airing of differences that can lead to improved working relationship and movement toward organizational goals and beneficial change. While supervisors typically express work‐related anger with impunity, subordinate anger may be challenged and sanctioned more frequently. Hypotheses tested status (supervisor vs. subordinate) and role (expresser vs. target) effects on perceived outcomes. Findings indicate a significant main effect for status and significant interaction with role such that subordinates who are targets of supervisor anger, reported significantly more negative outcomes from anger expression than any other type of anger interaction. We also found that existing strong relationships between supervisors and subordinates contribute to outcomes that are more favorable following anger expressions at work.

Keywords: power, status, conflict management, emotions

How to Cite:

Callister, R. & Geddes, D. & Gibson, D., (2017) “When Is Anger Helpful or Hurtful? Status and Role Impact on Anger Expression and Outcomes”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 10(2), 69-87. doi:

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Published on
24 Apr 2017
Peer Reviewed