Researchers have discovered that men tend to mellow as they get older, but found levels of self-reported anger among women stayed roughly the same throughout their age range. In short, old women are much grumpier than old men.

The team at Middlesex University looked at 52 men and 101 women aged between 18 and 60.

Participants were asked to rate a series of situations on an “anger intensity” scale of one to four. They were split into three groups according to their ages: 18 to 25, 26 to 40 and 41 to 60.

The findings were presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual meeting, held at Manchester University.

Researchers found that men expressed more anger when they were younger than when they were older, contrary to the popularly held belief in grumpy old men.

Jane Barnett, a research student who led the team, said: “Men were reporting quite high levels of anger early on, but as they got to middle age it dissipated and levelled off.

“The concept of grumpy old men could be a myth. It seems that Victor Meldrews are the exception rather than the rule.”

Victor Meldrew was the character played by Richard Wilson in the BBC1 comedy series One Foot in the Grave.

Ms Barnett said it was possible that, as they got older, men felt less of a need to conform to a “masculine stereotype” which involved getting angry.

But Ms Barnett said that a woman’s ability to get angry was, if anything, higher than that of man.

She added: “There’s still this traditional idea that women shouldn’t express their anger.

“I don’t perceive anger as necessarily a negative emotion. It can help you to express yourself when you’re not happy. Past research has shown that both suppressing anger and expressing it too much are bad for your health. It’s the way that you control your anger that matters.”

Ms Barnett aims to use the study to develop new anger management techniques.

Jess Barrow, the head of policy at Age Concern Scotland, said: “Older women have an awful lot to be grumpy about.

“Many are facing a retirement of poverty, pensions for women are utterly inadequate and some women have no pension provision at all.

“It really doesn’t surprise me that old women may be grumpier than old men.”

Ms Barrows pointed out that, now that both men and women are living into their nineties and hundreds, the report did not fully reflect how angry older people really were.

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