Drinking does not necessarily lead to barroom brawling, but the amount of alcohol consumed by participants in an aggressive situation can make a difference in how severe or injurious the brawl turns out to be, according to new research. From the Center for the Advancement of Health :More drinks may lead to severe barroom brawls
Drinking does not necessarily lead to barroom brawling, but the amount of alcohol consumed by participants in an aggressive situation can make a difference in how severe or injurious the brawl turns out to be, according to new research.
A study by Kenneth E. Leonard, Ph.D., of the State University of New York at Buffalo and colleagues suggests that other environmental factors, including dim lighting, large crowds, high noise level and encouragement from onlookers, are also strongly associated with the severity of barroom aggression.
“Men who reported higher levels of [alcohol] consumption were more likely to report high levels of aggression and that their opponent was hurt or injured more than were men who reported lower levels of consumption,” Leonard says.
But alcohol consumption was not significantly associated with whether bar patrons engaged in aggression in the first place, the researchers note.
Leonard and colleagues collected information on aggressive episodes or threatening experiences in or around a bar from 190 men. The researchers also used questionnaires to evaluate aspects of the men’s personalities, like anger, impulsivity and their feelings about drinking.
While 19 percent of the study participants said that they had not been aggressive in the situation they described, 55 percent of those who acknowledged that they behaved aggressively said that they were highly aggressive, sometimes injuring their opponent. The amount of alcohol consumed by the study participants was “unrelated to the occurrence of aggression,” Leonard and colleagues say.
The study is published as part of a special collection of research on alcohol and aggression in the February 2003 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
As other research in the issue indicates, the idea that alcohol use increases aggression has given way to a more complicated reality where individual and environmental factors play a significant role in how alcohol affects aggression.
* A study of 204 social drinkers by Peter R. Giancola, Ph.D., of the University of Kentucky suggests that alcohol’s effect on aggression is “highly variable depending on moderating risk factors,” like empathy, anger and a person’s planning and organizing abilities, commonly known as executive functioning.
* Alcohol intoxication can encourage self-aggressive behavior, a finding which could help researchers better understand the role of alcohol in suicides and deliberate self-injury, say Mitchell E. Berman, Ph.D., of the University of Southern Mississippi and colleagues.
* New findings confirm the role of alcohol in perpetuating intimate partner violence across generations: Helene Raskin White, Ph.D. of Rutgers University and Cathy Spatz Widom, Ph.D., of New Jersey Medical School report that women who were abused or neglected as children compared with those who were not are more likely to develop alcohol problems, and that these problems increase the risk of intimate partner violence in their generation.
* A study of 250 men and women enrolled in substance abuse treatment demonstrates that alcohol and cocaine use and family histories of alcoholism and violence work together to influence the incidence of family violence and childhood behavioral problems, according to Stephen Chermack, Ph.D., of the John D. Dingle Medical Center in Detroit.
These studies were supported by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Justice, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation.
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