Program

Nov 09, 2007


OVERVIEW

High-anger sixth though eighth graders participated in an
intervention designed for reducing anger and unhealthy anger expression. The
intervention was comprised of two strategies, cognitive-relaxation coping
skills (CRCS) and social skills training (SST). To measure impact, adolescents
were randomly assigned to the CRCS condition, the SST condition, or no
treatment condition. Compared with the no treatment group, adolescents in
both interventions reported reduction in trait, general, and
personal-situational anger, as well as unhealthy anger expression, and one
measure of anxiety. CRCS also had impacts on depression, shyness, general
deviance and a second measure of anxiety.

DESCRIPTION OF
PROGRAM

Target population: High-anger
adolescents

Two
cognitive-behavioral intervention strategies–cognitive-relaxation coping skills
(CRCS) or social skills training (SST) were adapted to reduce anger in sixth
though eighth grade adolescents. CRCS encompassed class discussion and
rehearsal, and targeted emotional and physiological arousal, and increasing
skills for emotional control. SST consisted of lecturing and writing exercises,
and addressed skill deficiencies and dysfunctional expressional styles. As part
of the intervention, high-anger students were randomly assigned to the CRCS
condition, SST condition, or no treatment condition. To measure impact,
both pre-treatment and post-treatment assessments were administered along four
dimensions: 1) anger and anger expression, 2) emotional variables not directly
involving anger, 3) deviant behavior, and 4) alcohol use.

EVALUATION(S) OF
PROGRAM

Evaluated
population: Of the 120 students participating in the study, 52.5% were
boys, and 47.5% were girls. Caucasian students were predominant, representing
78.3% of the sample. Students of Latino/Hispanic origin represented 19.2% of
the sample, and Asian American and American Indian students represented 1.6%
and 0.83%, respectively. In total, there were 19 sixth graders, 38 seventh
graders and 63 eighth graders.

Approach: Over a period of three years, a total of
694 sixth through eighth grade students completed baseline anger screenings,
using the Trait Anger Scale (TAS), developed by Spielberg (1988). Those scoring
in the upper quartile (>23) on the TAS (n=178) were recruited for
participation. Of the potential students, 126 were randomly assigned, and 120
participated in the intervention for the full three-year span. Double-blind
pre-treatment assessment batteries, which assessed anger and anger expression,
deviant behavior, and alcohol use, were administered by counselors and
teachers. Other variables indirectly related to anger, such as depression,
anxiety, shyness, and self-esteem were also assessed. To ensure integrity, in
addition to the anger assessments, intervention manipulation checks were
administered. Students ranked the level of counselor interest in group
members, clarity of communications, and expressed expectations of intervention
effectiveness. Following assessment, students were randomly assigned to the
CRCS treatment condition, SST treatment condition, or an untreated control
condition. Thirty-nine students were assigned to the CRCS condition, and forty
students were assigned to the SST condition. The remaining 41 were assigned to
the no-treatment condition. Both treatment groups met for nine 45-minute
sessions, and were led by highly educated professionals who had experience with
cognitive-behavioral intervention techniques.

Results: On all anger measures, both CRCS and SST
intervention students differed significantly from the control group; but did
not differ significantly from each other. Compared with students in the
untreated control group, students in both treatment groups reported less trait
and general anger, less anger in their most angering situations, and less
outward negative expression of anger, and greater anger control. CRCS
intervention students also reported significantly less general deviance, less
trait anxiety, shyness, and depression than the control group. Of these, no
statistically significant differences were found between SST intervention and
the control group. No statistically significant differences were found on
self-esteem or alcohol consumption. Students in the CRCS condition also
experienced positive impacts on depression, shyness, a measure of anxiety, and
general deviance. In addition, no between group differences were reported
on measures of manipulation, suggesting that the treatments were implemented
properly.

Note: Analyses were not designed to adjust for the effect of
clustering within schools.

SOURCES FOR MORE
INFORMATION

References

Deffenbaucher, J. L., Lynch, R. S., Oetting, E. R., &
Kemper, C. C. (1996). Anger reduction in early adolescents. Journal of
Counseling Psychology, 43
, 149-157.

KEYWORDS: Adolescents, Children, Co-ed, Hispanic/Latino, White/Caucasian, Middle School, School-Based, Delinquency, Alcohol Use, Anxiety Disorders/Symptoms, Depression/Mood Disorders, Self-Esteem/Self-Concept, Skills Training

Program information last updated 11/9/2007.