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Recent Dev Alcohol. 1997;13:227-43.

Effects of alcohol on human aggression. Validity of proposed explanations.

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Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames 50011-3180, USA.


In the present review, meta-analytic procedures were used to test the validity of three explanations of alcohol-related aggression: physiological disinhibition, expectancy, and indirect cause. According to the physiological disinhibition explanation, alcohol increases aggression directly by anesthetizing the center of the brain that normally inhibits aggressive responding. According to the expectancy explanation, alcohol increases aggression because people expect it to. According to the indirect cause explanation, alcohol increases aggression by causing changes within the person that increase the probability of aggression (e.g., by reducing intellectual functioning). The results from the review were inconsistent with the physiological disinhibition and expectancy explanations, but were consistent with the indirect cause explanation. Experimental manipulations that increased aggression (e.g., provocations, frustrations, aggressive cues) had a stronger effect on intoxicated participants than on sober participants.

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