COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Drinking enough alcohol to become intoxicated increases aggression significantly in people who have one particular personality trait, according to new research.
But people without that trait don't get any more aggressive when drunk than they would when they're sober.
That trait is the ability to consider the future consequences of current actions.
"People who focus on the here and now, without thinking about the impact on the future, are more aggressive than others when they are sober, but the effect is magnified greatly when they're drunk," said Brad Bushman, lead author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.
"If you carefully consider the consequences of your actions, it is unlikely getting drunk is going to make you any more aggressive than you usually are."
Peter Giancola, professor of psychology, at the University of Kentucky, co-authored the paper with Bushman and led the experiments used in the study. Other co-authors were Dominic Parrott, associate professor of psychology at of Georgia State University and Robert Roth, associate professor of psychiatry, at Dartmouth Medical School. Their results appear online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and will be published in a future print edition.
Bushman said it makes sense that alcohol would make present-focused people more aggressive.
"Alcohol has a myopic effect -- it narrows your attention to what is important to you right now. That may be dangerous to someone who already has that tendency to ignore the future consequences of their actions and who is placed in a hostile situation."
The study involved 495 adults, with an average age of 23, who were social drinkers. Before participating, the participants were screened for any past or present drug, alcohol and psychiatric-related problems. Women were tested to ensure they weren't pregnant.
|Contact: Brad Bushman|
Ohio State University