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Trait mindfulness and anger in the family: A dyadic analysis of male service members and their female partners

APA Citation:

Zhang, N., Piehler, T. F., Gewirtz, A. H., Zamir, O., & Snyder, J. J. (2020). Trait mindfulness and anger in the family: A dyadic analysis of male service members and their female partners. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 46(1), 15-29. https://doi.org/10.1111/jmft.12384

Abstract Created by REACH:

Prior research has found trait mindfulness (i.e., an individual’s propensity to pay attention to the current moment without judgement or immediate reaction) to be associated with positive attitudes and behaviors, including lower rates of anger. This study examined the extent to which two important aspects of mindfulness, nonjudging and nonreactivity, were associated with expressions of anger in military parents, given that anger issues can be a challenge among military personnel who return home after experiencing a deployment. Couples, composed of at-home mothers and National Guard/Reserve fathers, from 155 military families completed questionnaires on various facets of mindfulness and then engaged in a video-recorded disagreement to measure expressions of anger. The results suggest that only nonreactivity is related to fewer expressions of anger during conflict for both partners.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Air Force
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Spouse of service member or veteran


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Cross-Sectional Study
Quantitative Study
Secondary Analysis


Zhang, Na, Piehler, Timothy F., Gewirtz, Abigail H., Zamir, Osnat, Snyder, James J.


Anger-related problems have been documented among post-deployed service members who returned home, posing risks to their well-being and increasing distress in their families. Trait mindfulness (acting with awareness, nonjudging, and nonreactivity) has been associated with lower self-reported anger. Using actor–partner interdependence models, we tested the association between trait mindfulness and parental anger observed in parent–child and couple interactions. The sample consisted of 155 dyads of male National Guard/Reserve members who had been recently deployed and returned, and their female non-deployed partners. Results showed that fathers’ and mothers’ nonreactivity was negatively associated with their own observed anger, indicating that parents who reported higher nonreactivity exhibited lower anger. Mothers’ nonreactivity was also negatively associated with observed fathers’ anger in the same family such that fathers exhibited lower anger when their female partner reported higher nonreactivity. Nonreactivity facilitates emotion regulation and its cultivation may reduce anger in post-deployed military families.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

John Wiley & Sons

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Arizona State University, NZ
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, TFP
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, AHG
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, OZ
Wichita State University, JJS


anger-related problems, anger, post-deployed service members, families, distress, National Guard, Reserve, non-deployed partners

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


National Institute on Drug Abuse, Award numbers: R01 DA030114 and R21 DA034166
National Institute on Drug Abuse, Primary Prevention, National Research Service Award number: T32DA039772-03

REACH Newsletter:

  November 2019

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