Alcohol and aggression: effects of personal threat on human aggression and affective arousal.
Theorists have attempted to account for the relationship between alcohol intoxication and a wide range of aggressive behaviors by ascribing alcohol-related aggression to the disinhibiting effects of alcohol and to its disruptive effects on cognitive processes. Allocation of attention and situational threat have been thought to mediate alcohol-related aggression. In the present study, 72 male social drinkers received either alcohol, a placebo, or a nonalcoholic beverage and were exposed to either threatening or nonthreatening personal information. Measuring levels and duration of aggressive responses on a Taylor-Buss aggression machine, intoxicated subjects were found to be generally more aggressive under threatening than under nonthreatening information conditions. Intoxicated subjects also reported relatively large increases in anger, depression, and tension following the aggression task, which appeared to be affected by the type of information received. These findings concur with and refine previous models suggesting that alcohol focuses the drinker's attention to salient cues in threatening circumstances, thus increasing the likelihood of aggressive behavior.
Zeichner, A; Allen, JD; Giancola, PR; Lating, JM
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