Difference Between Cold and Hot Anger

Life, for every individual, is not easy, as it comes with its set of challenges. When things slip out of our control, it can leave us feeling agitated and frustrated. Knowing the type of anger you tend to exhibit under such stressful situations helps you get to a solution quickly.

Anger is divided into two main categories based on its distinct qualities. In this blog, we will compare cold anger versus hot anger and how it manifests for each individual.

Hot Anger

The first one on our list is hot anger. As evident from its name, this type of anger makes you feel strongly and passionately towards the unjustness in your life. You would feel as if you will burst with rage, or it may make you act immediately and impulsively.

In short, loud, violent, visible, and uncontrollable reaction is how you would describe hot anger.

Cold Anger

Cold anger is more calculated and controlled, where you see a complete absence of emotions. This is when people wall off themselves mentally. Given the strategic thought process behind it, the ultimate intentions are often malice. It is often known as “tranquility fury’.

Of the two types of anger, cold rage is more harmful in the long run. Hot anger is temporarily explosive, but cold anger does not have visible expressions. This builds a long-lasting resentment which can easily damage personal and professional relationships.

If you have a tendency to lean towards either of these, it is better to recognize the signs and get help.

Let’s explore the difference between cold anger and hot anger.

Characteristics of Hot Anger

For a person experiencing hot anger, there is a sudden surge of intense emotion. This can either be rage, frustration, or annoyance. This is generally a rapid response to a perceived threat to morals or beliefs, compromised boundaries, and invasion of space.

At the moment, these emotions are overwhelming and difficult to control as they can be triggered by being in the situation. Such individuals experiencing hot anger can display physical signs of the emotional state they are in.

1. Behavioral Manifestations

In such individuals, an emotion as intense as hot anger takes different forms. This means that the rage you feel determines the change in your physical appearance. It can be the smallest of things, such as facial expressions like staring, going red in the face, or clenching fists while talking.

The body language becomes aggressive and confrontational to protect oneself. We divide the manifestations into two categories:

2. Verbal Outbursts

One of the most common manifestations of hot anger is raising your voice. While communicating, individuals start yelling, shouting, and swearing which leads to hurtful and offensive comments in the heat of the moment.

It is also very easy to make snide remarks, including name-calling, insults, and derogatory language directed to mock the person you are angry with. In extreme forms of verbal aggression, anger leads to threats of physical and mental harm as a means of intimidation.

3. Physical Aggression

Hot anger can very quickly escalate from verbal outbursts to physical violence. Besides the gestures of clenching fists, individuals start pushing the opponent away, and if they lose control, it goes on to hitting or even slapping them.

Acting upon the impulsivity of hot anger causes damage to the objects and property by smashing and throwing things. Hot anger can progress to an invasion of personal space during a confrontation, stemming from hateful feelings.

You will notice that in anger, people pace back and forth in the room and are unable to sit still with their heightened emotional state. Tapping their fingers and shaking their legs shows their agitation under stressful situations.

Since hot anger impairs the ability to inhibit impulsive actions, you will notice a pattern of reckless behavior that is initiated without considering the consequences. The outward expression of hot anger is scary but it also shows the emotional turmoil a person is experiencing.

4. Biological and Physiological Aspects

Our brain regulates the physiologic response to a fight-or-flight situation by releasing chemicals and hormones. The release of stress hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline, prepares the body for immediate action. You will feel your heart rate go up and your heart beat out of your chest.

The surge in hormones can also temporarily increase blood pressure, making you feel tensed and sweaty. The body’s response to hot anger includes rapid, shallow breathing. You will feel the muscle tension, especially in areas like the shoulders, neck, and jaw.

Brain activity upregulates the center of emotional processing, the amygdala, and downregulates the activity of the pre-frontal cortex involved in reasoning and planning. An understanding of your brain’s biological functioning will help you adopt cognitive strategies for anger management.

Characteristics of Cold Anger

Compared to the violent expressions of hot anger, you will see how cold rage is anger that simmers internally. As a result, it has muted and silent characteristics.

Cold anger is deep-seated resentment that comes from internalizing anger for an extended period. You might be holding onto grudges for weeks, months, or even years. Keeping feelings to yourself allows anger to build up over time. In your free time, you may replay the events of unfairness in your mind repeatedly.

The main feature of cold anger is a person’s dangerous ability to maintain a controlled and composed demeanor even in situations that trigger anger. They do not display signs of hostility. Rather, choose when and how to address the source of anger.

However, look for subtle indicators of the underlying feelings of anger. These can be changes in the tone of voice, facial expressions, or body language that convey dissatisfaction.

1. Behavioral Manifestations

If you see passive-aggressive behavior, know that it is cold anger that is preventing them from complying with the demands indirectly. For example, you will see them procrastinate, or deliberately forget to do a task poorly to express frustration.

So, instead of openly addressing issues, such individuals resort to sulking and giving others the silent treatment. You will hear ambiguous statements and a pattern of avoiding explicit communication to show their disappointment.

You will also see them dodging confrontational talks and if questioned, they will give non-committal statements that make it difficult to draw conclusions. Backhanded compliments from such individuals is a way to disguise criticism in sarcasm.

This emotionally reserved demeanor makes it difficult for others to gauge their true feelings. While doing this, they expect support from others and hope that their friends validate and recognize their frustrations.

2. Biological and Physiological Aspects

It doesn’t come as a surprise that suppressing your emotions consistently puts your body under stress. Chronic stress causes the body to be activated for prolonged periods, which affects cardiovascular health and weakens immune function.

Although cold anger does not have aggressive physical signs of tension, it still leads to chronic muscle tension. This can contribute to physical discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and back.

Needless to mention, the emotional turmoil manifests as rumination. This is repeatedly thinking about the source of anger and it makes it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. The tendency to suppress emotions leads to numbness. Such individuals cannot express their true feelings and this strains relationships in the long term.

Just as hot anger affects brain activity, cold rage modifies brain structures and neural pathways. During these episodes, cognitive functions of planning and emotional reasoning are highly stimulated. However, chronic activation can lead to mental fatigue in the future.

Key Differences Between Hot and Cold Anger

Look at this table to quickly differentiate between hot and cold rage:

AspectHot AngerCold Anger
Intensity and DurationImmediate and intense but short-livedProlonged and often unnoticed
ExpressivenessOutward expressionExpression is subtle or concealed
Impact on RelationshipsStrain relationships quicklyCan erode trust and communication over time
Communication RoleHeated arguments and emotional outburstsRequires open dialogue and addressing underlying issues

Intensity and Duration

Hot anger is characterized by an immediate, intense emotional response. However, it dissipates as quickly within minutes or hours. Cold anger, on the other hand, lingers beneath the surface for extended periods and builds long-lasting resentment.


Hot anger is explosive. It has visible signs of physical and verbal aggression such as raised voices, shouting, and hitting. Whereas, you will not see this with cold anger. Individuals conceal their anger, making it less noticeable to others.

Impact on Relationships

Hot anger quickly strains interpersonal relationships due to its loud nature in a way that it offends the other person. However, once cooled down, it can be talked out and solved.

Cold anger is dangerous because it gradually breaks trust and communication over time as unresolved issues accumulate. The unaddressed issues lead to passive-aggressive behavior and distance in relationships.

4 Coping Strategies for Hot and Cold Anger

1. Strategies for immediate anger control

The American Psychological Association recommends that as you feel negative thoughts build up, the first step should be practicing deep breathing.

Learn to inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four, and hold for a count of four. Then exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of six. This pause in your thoughts helps you redirect your focus from what is making you angry and gain composure.

If you have a vivid imagination, take this time out to close your eyes and visualize a scenery that brings you peace. Think of a happy memory to avoid the sensory overload and muscle tension that can easily build up from anger.

If the situation still feels overwhelming, try stepping away from the scene and away from the source of anger. This gives you the personal space to identify your feelings before you react.

2. Channeling intense anger into constructive actions

Once you have calmed yourself, use the rush of energy towards doing a constructive task. Take your creative outlet and channel your anger through painting, journaling, or listening to music.

Use the adrenaline rush in a physical sport or for running and lifting weights. This will tire you out and give you a way to release all the negative energy.

This is also where your self-care comes in. Listen to a podcast on meditation, or follow a YouTube video on yoga.

Mindfulness creates awareness about your own actions and takes you a step closer to conflict resolution.

3. Recognizing and addressing hidden anger

If you want to make a productive effort towards calming yourself, talk to yourself to recognize the source of anger. We often do not know the trigger that is making us feel negatively. You may also exhibit signs of hidden rage and chronic resentment.

Self-reflection is an important aspect of managing anger. We encourage you to ask yourself the following questions, to get direction toward your feelings:

  • what triggered my anger?
  • was my response adequate?
  • what were my thoughts and beliefs in the moment?
  • what were my expectations?
  • is there a pattern of recurring triggers?
  • was I responsible for the outburst?

This determines how self-aware you are of the situation to take effective steps for communication.

4. Effective communication and conflict resolution

Mostly, anger arises from the inability to listen to an argument. Let the other person finish their thought so it does not make them feel unimportant. It is also based on assumptions about the other persons.

Doubting someone’s intentions is a personal attack and immediately makes them defensive. Thus, find common ground and ask questions about unclear behavior.

Once you start communicating, use “i’ in the conversation to show you are taking full accountability for your actions. If you do not adopt this habit, it leads to an endless blaming cycle.

It is not necessary that you agree with either person entirely. Therefore, accept and let go. Once you actively start practicing forgiveness, you will not be bothered by minor issues in life.


The fluidity between cold versus hot anger takes you on two distinct poles of the emotional scale. Striking the balance between the intense reactions of hot anger and the calming, dangerous nature of cold rage requires a deeper understanding of your feelings.

This is where self-awareness about your triggers comes in. Your body’s response towards unjustness determines the expression of anger. A healthy anger expression means actively listening to your opponent. Instead of avoiding confrontation, indulge in open communication for your emotional well-being.

Carlos Todd PhD LCMHC

Dr. Carlos Todd PhD LCMHC specializes in anger management, family conflict resolution, marital and premarital conflict resolution. His extensive knowledge in the field of anger management may enable you to use his tested methods to deal with your anger issues.


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