Venting Out : A Myth To Anger Management

Got something to get off your chest? You’re better off keeping it to yourself. The research challenges traditional approaches to anger management


4/8/20242 min read

Venting Out : A Myth To Anger Management
Venting Out : A Myth To Anger Management

How Science Challenges Traditional Approaches to Anger Management

In moments of frustration and anger, it's a common response to "vent" or "blow off steam" as a means of coping with intense emotions. Many of us have been taught that expressing anger outwardly can provide a sense of relief and catharsis. However, recent research from Ohio State University suggests that this widely held belief may be misguided. In fact, venting anger might not only fail to alleviate our feelings but could potentially make them worse. This article delves into the findings of this study and explores alternative strategies for managing anger effectively.

The Study:

Led by senior author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication, researchers at Ohio State University conducted a comprehensive analysis of 154 studies involving over 10,000 participants. Their objective was to examine the effectiveness of various activities in reducing anger. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the results revealed that activities aimed at increasing physiological arousal, such as intense exercise, often had little to no effect on anger. Moreover, some activities, like jogging, were found to exacerbate feelings of anger rather than alleviate them.

The Ineffectiveness of Venting:

The notion of venting anger as a means of coping has been ingrained in our cultural understanding of emotions. However, the study's findings challenge this belief. Bushman emphasizes that there is no scientific evidence to support the catharsis theory associated with venting. Even activities like going for a run, often touted as a way to "blow off steam," can actually heighten arousal levels and fuel anger rather than dissipate it.

Alternative Approaches:

So, if venting isn't the solution, what can individuals do when they're grappling with anger? The researchers suggest adopting "arousal-decreasing" practices aimed at calming the mind and body. These include deep breathing exercises, meditation, slow flow yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, and diaphragmatic breathing. By focusing on reducing arousal levels, individuals can effectively manage their anger and regain a sense of control over their emotions.

The Importance of Stress Reduction:

Sophie Kjærvik, a postdoctoral fellow involved in the study, emphasizes the significance of stress reduction techniques in managing anger. She notes that practices such as meditation and yoga, which are effective for stress management, can also help alleviate feelings of anger. In today's fast-paced society, where stress is pervasive, integrating these calming practices into daily routines can be beneficial for overall well-being.

Redefining Anger Management:

The research challenges traditional approaches to anger management and highlights the importance of addressing the physiological aspects of anger. Rather than seeking external outlets for expression, individuals are encouraged to turn inward and focus on calming techniques that promote emotional resilience. By cultivating a greater awareness of their emotional responses and adopting effective coping strategies, individuals can navigate anger more skillfully and maintain healthier relationships.


In conclusion, the study from Ohio State University underscores the ineffectiveness of venting anger as a means of coping. Instead, it advocates for practices aimed at reducing arousal levels and promoting emotional regulation. By embracing techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, individuals can cultivate a sense of inner peace and better manage their anger. Ultimately, the research offers a new perspective on anger management, emphasizing the importance of self-awareness and self-care in navigating intense emotions.