Alcohol and Aggression in Adults

Category: Culture
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It is largely accepted in American society that a person who is under the influence of alcohol is likely to be aggressive. Alcohol consumption has been found to be one of the leading causes of violence and injury in America. Yet, there is not many studies that include the placebo affect and how much alcohol a person needs to consume before they become aggressive. Can a person who believe they are intoxicated become aggressive for believing they are under the influence? The purpose of this study is to conclude if people use alcohol as an excuse to allow themselves to use aggressive behavior.

The American public-school system teaches society from a young age that alcohol has a large impact on a person’s emotions and their temperance; with the focus on how it can negatively affect a person, usually with violence as the main example. Men usually are heavier drinkers than women, and it’s been found, that with the heavier drinking comes more violence (Barnwell, Borders, & Earleywine, 2006). People who have been in an act of physical aggression have usually been influenced by some sort of alcohol (Wells, Graham, & West, 2000). On average, a person who drinks more has a higher chance of escalating a situation to that of physical violence, which typically, when mixed with alcohol, ends in injury.

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Humans are social creatures; they typically rely on the actions and opinions of others to judge and make their own actions and opinions. The placebo effect has been found to be a large influence on study participants. If the participants believe they are under the influence of something, such as alcohol, they may start to behave like it. So, in theory, if a person believes they are drunk, and people around them may start to be aggressive, that person may start to act more aggressively than they would if they believed they were sober. According to Wells & Graham, (2003) men who are typically aggressive just become more aggressive after drinking which can lead to a physical altercation, and usually, some sort of injury. According to Bartholow & Heinz (2006) pictures and words that point to more aggressive ideas will be recognized before something neutral is. It is believed that if a person believes that the situation is aggressive, after drinking they will become aggressive, and the more they drink the more aggressive they will behave.

A person may not need to be drunk to be aggressive, and a person can be drunk and not be aggressive. There are four typical aspects that are measured when looking at alcohol consumption; frequency of drinking, largest number of drinks consumed during any one occasion, how often the person consumes 5 or more drinks, and the size of their drinks (Wells, Graham, & West, 2000). According to Barnwell, Borders, & Earleywine, (2006) the actions of a person who consumes a lot of alcohol is more likely to be in an aggression related altercation than they are to be in any other sort of alcohol-related problem. While a person who consumes plentiful amounts of alcohol is more likely to involved in some sort of aggressive tendency, alcohol does not affect everyone and give them aggressive tendencies.

In the current study, fifty undergrads over the age of 21 will be placed into three groups; non-alcoholic beer, 12 ounces of alcoholic beer, and 36 ounces of alcoholic beer. In part one of the test the participants will take the Alcohol Outcome Expectancies Scales, Leigh. When finished they will consume all 36 ounces of the offered beverages, wait a half hour, and then take a version of Leigh’s Alcohol Outcome Expectancies Scales which will be compared to their original answers. This is to fill some gaps within the other research articles. If a person consumes 36 ounces of alcoholic beer, then they are more likely to be aggressive than someone who consumed 36 ounces of non-alcoholic beer.

“Aggression Involving Alcohol: Relationship to Drinking Patterns and Social Context” Summary

Introduction: Past research has found that people who drink heavier tend to be more aggressive, and vice versa. It has also been found that social situations also have an influence in the outcome of whether there is aggression in the situation; but there is not much research in whether there is a true difference between aggressive situations involving alcohol and those that don’t involve alcohol.

Method: The researchers used two forms of telephone-based surveys to contact 2623 households asking if the participant has even been involved in physical aggression, which was then followed by a question of how many times the involvement was with an adult within the last year. For those who admitted to being in a physical altercation within the last 12 months, they were then asked about the most recent incident; most of which being young males. For those who answered that they were not involved in a physical altercation within the last 12 months, they were asked questions on their demographics and drinking habits. Participants involved in altercations were questioned if they had been drinking 6 hours before the fight and asked of their sobriety during the altercation from a scale of 1 to 10 (sober-falling down drunk), and then the were asked if the other person within the altercation was also under the influence. Finally, they were asked if they were injured during the situation.

Results: Of the 178 people who reported being in a physical altercation, 21 of them had to be thrown out of the study due to them not being the main persons within the fight. It was found that those who were involved in the altercation had been heavily drinking and those who were hurt had also been drinking heavily. It was found that those who were involved were mostly men below the age of 30 who had been drinking heavily.

Introduction: Alcohol can lead to other acts of violence, not just physical altercations. However, alcohol does not lead to violence within all people. The traits of how a person drinks can be socially learned or learned through experience. Those who drink heavily should expect a higher range of emotional output, while those who are light drinkers usually just get tired. It’s been found that alcohol effects people who are usually aggressive and just intensifies it.

Method: Anonymous participants from the psychological undergraduate students of Southern California University and they were asked on their demographics, drinking habits, and aggression habits. The participants were explained how much alcohol is defined as a serving, and then they were asked how many drinks they have during an occasion. Participants were then asked to rate their aggression on the Alcohol Expectancies Regarding Sex, Aggression and Sexual Vulnerability; which is rated on a scale of one to five (Very Much Unlike Me to Very Much Like Me).

Results: The participants drank on average 1.7 days a week, with four drinks per occasion with 8.2 drinks being the most that they usually drink; men typically drank more than women on average. Participants reported having 14 aggressive altercations within the last year. However, compared to women, men had many more altercations. Women typically reported screaming or pulling hair, when men typically reported all the other physical acts of aggression. In conclusion, the hypothesis proved to be true: the amount of alcohol interacted basically simultaneously with the amount of aggression output, especially when the person is predominately aggressive to being drunk.

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Alcohol and Aggression in Adults. (2019, Mar 18). Retrieved from