Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Gregory L. Stuart

Committee Members

Todd M. Moore, Deborah Welsh, David Patterson

Abstract

Dating violence is a serious problem, with psychological aggression being the most common topography of aggression. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of research on temporal risk factors for psychological aggression perpetration and victimization. Thus, the proposed study examined whether alcohol and negative affect increased the odds of psychological aggression perpetration and victimization, and whether these two risk factors interacted to temporally predict aggression. That is, consistent with the Attention-Allocation Model (AAM), it was hypothesized that at high levels of negative affect, acute alcohol consumption would increase the odds of aggression. However, at low levels of negative affect, acute alcohol consumption would decrease the odds of aggression. College students who had consumed alcohol in the previous month and were in a dating relationship participated (N=243; 72.4% female). For 90 consecutive days, students were asked to complete a daily survey that assessed their alcohol use, negative affect (anger, hostility, and irritation), and aggression perpetration and victimization. Consistent with predictions, the main effect of alcohol on aggression perpetration was moderated by negative affect, such that alcohol (i.e., any and heavy) was positively associated with aggression perpetration when participants experienced high negative affect but negatively associated with aggression when they experienced low negative affect. Findings did not vary by gender and were also found for physical aggression perpetration. These results significantly advance our theoretical understanding of the role of alcohol use in increasing or decreasing the risk for dating violence. Results suggest that interventions for alcohol-related aggression will be most effective by focusing on individuals who experience negative affect while drinking.

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