Ronald R. Callister, Barbara Gray, Donald E. Gibson, Maurice E. Schweitzer and Joo Seng Tan
Expressions of anger impact both individual and social outcomes. A single expression of anger can yield both positive and negative outcomes of conflict. We find that anger norms regarding the appropriateness of anger expressions play a critical role in moderating the consequences of anger expressions. We use a qualitative theory-building approach to examine anger expressions, norms, and outcomes across a range of organizations. We identify an anger context continuum (ACC): anger expression norms range from anger-suppression (expressions of anger are inappropriate) to anger-legitimating norms (expressions of anger are well accepted). Anger expression norms play a role in moderating the outcomes of anger expressions. Anger expressions yield positive outcomes, but this occurs less frequently in anger-suppression settings. However, in many organizations, display rules are implicit and inconsistent. In these situations many individuals import display rules from previous professional and personal experience. This study of anger norms and expressions provides insights to better understand conflict management.