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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. (2019). 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:

Service members who have been previously deployed sometimes demonstrate anger symptoms that can negatively impact themselves and their families. Trait mindfulness, the tendency to be non-judgmentally present in the moment, may help reduce anger and the relational impacts of anger. Using dyadic data (i.e., data from two partners were analyzed in a way that accounted for the interdependence within couples) from 155 heterosexual military couples, this study examined how three different facets of trait mindfulness: (1) acting with awareness (i.e., being aware of one’s thoughts and emotions), (2) non-judging (i.e., not judging one’s thoughts and emotions), and (3) non-reactivity (i.e., not impulsively acting on one’s thoughts and emotions) were associated with anger. Couples were observed in conflict with each other and with their child to discern the association between acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reactivity on both partners’ observed anger affect. For both mothers and fathers, non-reactivity was associated with less of their own observed anger affect. Mothers’ non-reactivity was also associated with less observed anger affect of fathers.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Air Force
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:

Guard/Reserve member


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


Cross-Sectional Study
Quantitative Study


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


military personnel, anger, mindfulness, military dependents, families

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


The ADAPT study was funded by grants from National Institute on Drug Abuse R01 DA030114 to Abigail Gewirtz and R21 DA034166 to James Snyder. The first author's work on this article was supported by a National Research Service Award (NRSA) in Primary Prevention by the National Institute on Drug Abuse T32DA039772‐03 (PI: Laurie Chassin).

REACH Newsletter:

  June 2020

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