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J Stud Alcohol. 2002 Nov;63(6):696-708.

Alcohol-related aggression in men and women: the influence of dispositional aggressivity.

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Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, 115 Kastle Hall, Lexington, Kentucky 40506-0044, USA.



The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of dispositional aggressivity on the alcohol-aggression relation in men and women.


Subjects were 204 healthy social drinkers (111 men) between 21 and 35 years of age. Dispositional aggressivity was measured using the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire. Following the consumption of either an alcohol or placebo beverage, subjects were tested on a modified version of the Taylor Aggression Paradigm, in which electric shocks are received from and administered to a fictitious opponent during a competitive task. Aggression was operationalized as the shock intensities administered to the fictitious opponent under conditions of low and high provocation.


Of all the variables, provocation was the strongest elicitor of aggression. Overall, persons with high dispositional aggressivity exhibited more aggression than did those with low dispositional aggressivity. Alcohol increased aggression for persons with high, but not for those with low, dispositional aggressivity. This effect was stronger under conditions of low provocation. Furthermore, men and women with low dispositional aggressivity did not differ in aggression. Men with high dispositional aggressivity, however, were more aggressive than their female counterparts.


This is the first investigation to examine the influence of dispositional aggressivity on the alcohol-aggression relation in men and women. The results highlight the fact that alcohol consumption does not increase aggression in all persons and in all situations. An important goal for future research is to identify which individual difference and contextual factors are most important in determining who will, and will not, behave in an aggressive manner when intoxicated.

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