>In The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools and Workplaces, 2nd ed., we identify four reasons why people behave passive aggressively. One of those reasons has to do with a child’s socialization within the norms of his cultural and/or ethnic group.

In short, some cultures and ethnic groups set absolute standards for the need to be polite and charming, regardless of internal feelings. Children are taught to swallow their anger and never to debate, argue, confront, or even assertively express their emotions. The suppression of anger toward elders may create a level of civility and politeness that is admirable, but it can also create a reservoir of unexpressed hostile feelings and the development of passive aggressive behaviors as a means of self-expression.

Do you have any stories of passive aggressive behavior as a response to strict cultural and ethnic norms? Please share them here.

Below, please find an example posted by Donna Bee on 10/4/09:

There was no expressing of anything in our family. We are of Finnish background, for God’s sake. Anger, openly expressed, forget about it. One year, I forget how old I was, but I was mad about a million infractions on my human pshyche so I took a razor blade and cut the back end seams of my Dad’s cotton/polyester boxer short underwear…do not know if he or my Mom ever noticed, but I sure felt better….temporarily.