Novaco's (e.g. 1975, 1979) model of anger is the most influential in the clinical context and has recently been adapted for working with anger problems in people with intellectual disabilities (Taylor & Novaco, 2005). A schematic flow diagram of Novaco's formulation is presented in Figure 8.3.
In Novaco's model, external events are "cognitively processed" and may lead to a state of emotional arousal. This arousal is a general physiological response, which may be labelled differently by the individual depending on the contextual cues and his/her interpretation of the eliciting events. Once anger has been aroused there are four main behavioural reactions that may follow: physical or verbal antagonism;
passive aggression; and/or avoidance withdrawal. Which of these responses is most liable to develop is a function of how the event is viewed, as well as the individual's past experience and the predicted outcome.
In many ways Novaco's model of anger is a description of the processes that we have identified throughout the chapter. While it perhaps lacks explanatory power, it does provide a framework for understanding the interaction of external events, internal cognitive processes, behavioural reactions, and physiological reactions. Again, as with Berkowitz's model, we would disagree with Novaco's claim that the first pass of cognitive appraisal leads to generalised physiological arousal which is then labelled by the individual in an anger-related fashion. This view echoes Schacter and Singer's (1962) original formulations of the generation of emotions consequent on unlabelled physiological arousal that we reviewed in Chapter 3, and we will not reiterate the objections to this approach here.
In sum, Novaco's model provides a good descriptive framework within which to understand the main processes involved in anger, and represents the most influential theoretical description of anger in the clinical domain (e.g., Jones, Thomas-Peter, & Gangstad, 2003). In line with this, the focus of Novaco's work has principally been on the development of treatment programmes for individuals experiencing significant difficulties with anger, and Novaco's anger control training system (Novaco, 1975; Taylor & Novaco, 2005) is the most comprehensive and systematic therapy package for anger problems to date.
Other researchers in the field of aggression have put forward theoretical models that are relevant to an understanding of anger and aggression (e.g., Blair et al., 2005; Geen, 1990; Kassinove, 1995). However, they are broadly similar to the work we have already reviewed and we shall not consider them here.
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