Are Anger Issues Genetic?

Are Anger Issues Genetic

Anger is a widespread issue in contemporary society, impacting countless individuals. This raises an important question: is anger innate, or is it acquired through experience?

Anger manifests in two distinct forms: reactive and proactive. Reactive anger is a response to external stimuli, such as being the target of yelling or criticism, whereas proactive anger originates from internal thoughts and emotions. Individuals often attempt to manage their anger through various strategies.

The origins of anger are subject to debate, with some theories suggesting a genetic basis and others viewing it as a learned behavior.

Ultimately, the consensus is that both genetic factors and environmental influences contribute to the development of anger issues, indicating that anger can be both inherited and learned.

Are Anger Issues Hereditary

The most seemingly obvious cause for anger is genetics.

People with anger issues tend to have family members who also suffer from anger issues. This means that there is a strong probability that you may inherit certain genes that make you more likely to become angry.

Tom Denson and his colleagues published a paper in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience that was very insightful for the world of genetics.

They discovered that those who are genetically predisposed towards aggression, actually try harder to control their anger.

However, they appear to have inefficient functioning in the region of the brain that controls emotions.

Are anger issues genetic? This means that while anger itself may not be genetic, the ability to exhibit self-control when it comes to one’s anger, could have a genetic basis.

are anger issues genetic

Generally speaking, this type of argument is disliked. Most people do not like to believe that their social behavior is limited to their genealogy. Luckily, that’s not what Denson and colleagues claimed.

Their claim merely started that there could be a genealogical link with those who have aggressive tendencies, and their lack of self-control.

That does not mean that such individuals cannot act in accordance with social standards, but rather that they will have to try harder, and as shown by scans  — do try harder, to manage their emotions.

However, this does not mean that your parents’ anger issues were passed down to you. You could still get angry even if your parents had no anger problems.

More than that, it could be that anger issues are not genetic, but rather have a different cause.

Is Anger a learned Behavior?

If we look back into history, we see that anger has been around since the beginning of time. It is only recently that humans have developed ways to control it.

In fact, some studies suggest that anger may be a natural reaction to perceived threats. For example, when confronted by a predator, a person might naturally feel threatened. As a result, they would react with anger.

This theory explains why children often display anger when they are faced with situations where they perceive themselves as being vulnerable.

Children learn how to deal with anger from watching their parents. They watch how their parents respond to anger, and then use these responses as models for dealing with their own anger.

So that begs the questions, can anger issues be genetic? Most experts agree that anger is a learned behavior, rather than something that is handed down from generation to generation. This model works if the parents display a healthy reaction to anger.

If not, the child will grow up to mimic this attitude and response to anger, and develop anger issues.

For example, if a parent yells at a child, the child learns to feel angry when similar circumstances arise later on. Read for example, why am I still angry at my ex years later.

This is also referred to as an environmental factor, as one’s environment is going to determine, impact, how one may interact with the world.

In this case, a household that involves a lot of anger could lead to the child learning the same responses to anger, and copying them.

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Genetic Factors

One way to understand the connection between genes and environment is through the concept of epigenetics. Epigenetics is a study of how changes in our environment affect our genes.

These changes happen without changing the DNA sequence.

Epigenetics help us understand the role of genes in our lives. The idea is that our experiences throughout life (including childhood) change the expression of certain genes.

When we encounter stressors or other challenges, our bodies react to them by producing chemicals called hormones.

These chemicals change the expression of certain proteins on the surface of our cells. This process is known as gene regulation.

The end result of all this is that our bodies are constantly adapting to new conditions. We call this adaptation “epigenetic”. To delve deeper into the concept of how our experiences affect our genetic expression, the article Why Do I Feel Like Nobody Likes Me: Unraveling the Roots of Insecurity and Building Stronger Connections offers a perspective on how early life interactions shape our emotions and behaviors.

is anger issues genetic

Epigenetic changes can occur during early stages of development. This means that there are things that we experience while we’re growing up that impact our future ability to cope with stressful situations.

For example, if we witness violence or abuse, our brains produce stress hormones. When those hormones reach critical levels, they can permanently alter the structure of our brain. Simple example seeing your family member repeatedly break things out of anger can trigger you and affect you in your day to day life.

This makes it less likely that we’ll be able to handle stressful situations in the future.

As a result, people who experienced trauma in childhood are more likely to become aggressive adults. These same processes can happen at any time in life. However, most research has focused on children and adolescents. Learn more about how to spot characteristics of depression in adolescents or children.

Generally speaking, the way we think and act is influenced by both genetics and experience, and it would be considered an error by most professionals to not consider the reality of both factors.

Treatment for Anger Issues


Therapy can be an effective treatment for anger issues. There are several types of therapy that can help individuals manage their anger:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns that contribute to anger issues. Through CBT, individuals can learn to recognize triggers for their anger and develop healthier coping strategies.

Family Therapy

Family therapy can be beneficial for addressing anger issues within the context of family dynamics. By working with a therapist, families can identify and change dysfunctional patterns that may contribute to anger issues.


In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage anger issues. This can include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or anti-anxiety medications. It is essential to work closely with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate medication and dosage.


Anger is a normal emotion. It serves a purpose, and helps us navigate the world around us. However, some people have difficulty controlling their emotions, and this leads to problems such as aggression and violence.

There are many reasons why someone might struggle with anger management. Some people just don’t know how to control their anger effectively.

Others have learned bad coping mechanisms for dealing with negative feelings. Still others grew up in homes where anger was tolerated, or even encouraged.

Some experts believe that anger is genetically determined, because people tend to share similar patterns of anger across generations.

But there are other experts who believe that anger is a learned response, meaning that it is something that we learn over time, based on our experiences.

It is important, however, to remember that most experts will consider both factors, as they both have an influence on our brain chemistry.


Is Anger Issues Genetic?

No, anger issues are not solely caused by genetics. They can result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and personality factors.

Can anger issues be treated?

Yes, anger issues can be treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of both. It is essential to work with a mental health professional to determine the best course of treatment.

Are certain personality traits more prone to anger issues?

Yes, personality traits such as extraversion, neuroticism, and low agreeableness can make an individual more susceptible to anger issues.

What role does the environment play in the development of anger issues?

Environmental factors such as parental modeling, family dynamics, and childhood trauma can all contribute to the development of anger issues.

Can someone overcome anger issues if they have a genetic predisposition?

Yes, even if someone has a genetic predisposition to anger issues, they can still work on developing healthy coping mechanisms and seek professional help to manage their anger effectively.

About our Author Michelle Landeros, LMFT license# 115130
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT

Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.

Last updated: July 13, 2024