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J Exp Anal Behav. 1992 Nov;58(3):577-87.

Effects of response requirement and alcohol on human aggressive responding.

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  • 1Human Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston 77030.


Nine men participated in two experiments to determine the effects of increased response requirement and alcohol administration on free-operant aggressive responding. Two response buttons (A and B) were available. Pressing Button A was maintained by a fixed-ratio 100 schedule of point presentation. Subjects were instructed that completion of each fixed-ratio 10 on Button B resulted in the subtraction of a point from a fictitious second subject. Button B presses were defined as aggressive because they ostensibly resulted in the presentation of an aversive stimulus to another person. Aggressive responses were engendered by a random-time schedule of point loss and were maintained by initiation of intervals free of point loss. Instructions attributed these point losses to Button B presses of the fictitious other subject. In Experiment 1, increasing the ratio requirement on Button B decreased the number of ratios completed in 4 of 5 subjects. In Experiment 2, the effects of placebo and three alcohol doses (0.125, 0.25, and 0.375 g/kg) were determined when Button B presses were maintained at ratio values of 20, 40 and 80. Three subjects who reduced aggressive responding with increasing fixed-ratio values reduced aggressive responding further at higher alcohol doses. One subject who did not reduce aggressive responding with increasing fixed-ratio values increased aggressive responding at the highest alcohol dose. The results of this study support suggestions that alcohol alters aggressive behavior by reducing the control of competing contingencies.

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