Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a critical public health problem that requires clear and testable etiological models that may translate into effective interventions. Given that acute alcohol intoxication and a pattern of heavy alcohol consumption are among the most robust correlates of IPV perpetration, etiological models of how alcohol facilitates aggression are critical to intervention development. However, an abundance of research has focused on moderators of the alcohol-IPV link while devoting much less empirical study to the specific affective and cognitive mediators of this relation. This limitation prevents research from developing and testing theoretically-based interventions design to reduce alcohol-facilitated IPV. The goals of the proposed research are to (1) test a mediational model of alcohol-facilitated IPV etiology, and (2) evaluate mechanisms of change via a theory-based manipulation that will inform IPV interventions for at- risk men and women. These goals will be achieved in two overarching laboratory studies. The objective of Study 1 is to examine whether specific affective (e.g., anger, negative affect) and cognitive processes (i.e., attention allocation, hostile rumination) mediate the effect of alcohol on aggression toward intimate partners. The objective of Study 2 is to examine whether a theory-based intervention manipulation will reduce alcohol- related aggression via these mechanisms. To examine these objectives, we will recruit males and females at high risk for IPV (based upon prior histories of partner violence and heavy alcohol use) from the greater Atlanta, GA and Indianapolis, IN communities. Participants in Study 1 will (a) be randomly assigned to receive either an alcohol or a control beverage, (b) be provoked by their intimate partner, (c) complete a measure of attention allocation, and (d) participate in a laboratory aggression paradigm in which they ostensibly can aggress toward their intimate partner. Procedures will allow for concurrent assessment of participants'physical aggression and cognitive and affective reactions. Study 2 will entail identical procedures, with the two exceptions that all participants (a) will receive an alcoholic beverage, and (b) be randomly assigned to a control or intervention condition posited to redirect attention away from provoking cues and toward self-relevant information. The most important contribution of the proposed laboratory-based project will be to test theoretically-based manipulations designed to reduce alcohol-related IPV. In doing so, this project will provide the necessary empirical foundation for clinical research to translate these approaches directly into real-world interventions.

Public Health Relevance

Acute alcohol intoxication and a pattern of heavy alcohol consumption are among the most robust correlates of intimate partner violence (IPV). However, relatively little research has directly examined factors that may mediate alcohol-related aggression among high risk samples. This project extends beyond the issue of whether alcohol is associated with IPV, and instead proposes a theory-based investigation of how specific affective and cognitive processes may mediate the relationship between alcohol intoxication and partner- directed aggression. In addition, this project will empirically examine how theoretically-informed intervention manipulations may minimize the hypothesized effect of alcohol-facilitated cognitive impairments on aggression. This new knowledge will inform the development of interventions to prevent or reduce alcohol-related violence in close relationships.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Risk, Prevention and Intervention for Addictions Study Section (RPIA)
Program Officer
Freeman, Robert
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Georgia State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Parrott, Dominic J; Eckhardt, Christopher I (2018) Effects of Alcohol on Human Aggression. Curr Opin Psychol 19:1-5
Subramani, Olivia S; Parrott, Dominic J; Eckhardt, Christopher I (2017) Problematic Drinking Mediates the Association Between Urgency and Intimate Partner Aggression During Acute Intoxication. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 41:1602-1611
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