Alcohol-related terms can increase aggression

June 5, 2014

New psychology research shows that exposing people to alcohol-related words can influence aggressive behaviour in ways similar to actually consuming alcohol.

Researchers found however that this occurred when people were subjected to provocation in a way that was not a clear-cut insult.

Although it has been long known that can increase aggression, a team of five psychologists, including Dr Eduardo Vasquez of the University of Kent in the UK and others from two US universities, demonstrated in two experiments that participants exhibited aggression following exposure to alcohol-related words – known as alcohol priming. This effect was demonstrated in situations when they were provoked in a way that was ambiguous or not obvious.

These findings will have implications for understanding the way people behave in situations where alcohol is present, including bars sporting events and parties.

The study – titled, Are You Insulting Me? Exposure to Alcohol Primes Increases Aggression Following Ambiguous Provocation - was conducted via two experiments involving US undergraduates.

In the first, half of the students were exposed to alcohol primes – for example, the words 'wine', 'beer' and 'whisky' – while the other half were exposed to non-alcohol primes – for example, 'milk', 'water' and 'juice' – prior to receiving feedback on an essay they had written. Participants demonstrated increased aggressive retaliation when provoked by the essay feedback, but only when the provocation could not be clearly interpreted as an insult. An unambiguous or clear provocation produced highly aggressive responses, regardless of whether a person was primed with alcohol or not.

The second experiment showed that the priming are fairly short-lived – the effect begins to diminish after seven minutes and is gone after about fifteen minutes following exposure to alcohol words. It also showed that alcohol priming influenced aggression by making the ambiguous provocation appear more hostile.

Dr Vasquez, of Kent's School of Psychology, said: 'These results provide another strong demonstration that exposing someone to alcohol-related words alone can influence social behaviour in ways that are consistent with the effects of .

'Our research also examined the parameters within which alcohol priming is likely to affect aggression. These effects seem to occur primarily when the is not clear-cut and obvious, and are thus more open to interpretation. Under alcohol priming, the interpretation becomes more negative, and people become more aggressive.

'We've shown that people attending events where alcohol is typically present do not have to drink to experience, or be subject to, the -enhancing effects of , a fact that would seem to suggest caution in all such environments.'

The paper, titled, Are You Insulting Me? Exposure to Alcohol Primes Increases Aggression Following Ambiguous Provocation, is published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Explore further: Aggressive behavior observed after alcohol-related priming

More information: psp.sagepub.com/content/early/ … /13/0146167214534993

Related Stories

Aggressive behavior observed after alcohol-related priming

May 22, 2014
Researchers from California State University, Long Beach, the University of Kent and the University of Missouri collaborated on a study to test whether briefly exposing participants to alcohol-related terms increases aggressive ...

Intoxication important in determining when some men commit sexual aggression

September 7, 2011
A new review article published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review assesses the extent to which alcohol plays a causal role in sexual assault perpetration. Results found that men who are already prone to anger, who have ...

Dad's alcohol consumption could influence sons' drinking, study finds

June 4, 2014
Even before conception, a son's vulnerability for alcohol use disorders could be shaped by a father who chronically drinks to excess, according to a new animal study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The ...

Safety in numbers: Moderate drinking in a group reduces attraction to risk

May 22, 2014
New research led by the University of Kent shows that individuals who have consumed moderate amounts of alcohol in social situations are likely to view risky situations with greater caution when considering them as part of ...

More than a million alcohol drinkers in Iran: report

May 20, 2014
More than a million Iranians out of a population of 77 million drink alcohol, a participant in the country's First World Congress on Alcohol Abuse was quoted Tuesday as saying.

Study finds link between alcohol use and domestic violence

January 27, 2014
Alcohol use is more likely than marijuana use to lead to violence between partners, according to studies done at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Recommended for you

Exposure to violence hinders short-term memory, cognitive control

July 24, 2017
Being exposed to and actively remembering violent episodes—even those that happened up to a decade before—hinders short-term memory and cognitive control, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National ...

Using money to buy time linked to increased happiness

July 24, 2017
New research is challenging the age-old adage that money can't buy happiness.

Researchers pave new path toward preventing obesity

July 24, 2017
People who experience unpredictable childhoods due to issues such as divorce, crime or frequent moves face a higher risk of becoming obese as adults, according to a new study by a Florida State University researcher.

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

Neuroticism may postpone death for some

July 24, 2017
Data from a longitudinal study of over 500,000 people in the United Kingdom indicate that having higher levels of the personality trait neuroticism may reduce the risk of death for individuals who report being in fair or ...

Psychologists say our 'attachment style' applies to social networks like Facebook

July 24, 2017
A new investigation appearing this week in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests a strong association between a person's attachment style—how avoidant or anxious people are in their close relationships—and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.