Does merely *thinking* about alcohol increase aggressiveness?


Numerous studies have shown that alcohol increases aggression. In this article it is proposed that the link between alcohol and aggression is so strong that mere exposure to alcohol-related cues will automatically activate aggressive thoughts and behaviors. Two experiments tested this automaticity theory of alcohol-related aggression. In Experiment 1, participants exposed to alcohol- or weapon-related primes made faster lexical decisions about aggression-related words than did participants exposed to neutral primes. In Experiment 2, participants exposed to alcohol- or aggression-related subliminal primes were more aggressive toward the experimenter than were participants exposed to neutral subliminal primes. In both experiments, the effects of alcohol-related cues were as strong as the effect of aggression-related cues on aggressive thoughts and behaviors. People do not need to drink a drop of alcohol to become aggressive; exposure to alcohol cues is enough to automatically increase aggression.

Source: “Automatic Effects of Alcohol and Aggressive Cues on Aggressive Thoughts and Behaviors” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin August 2010 vol. 36 no. 8 1052-1057

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