Alcohol's Effect on Aggression Identification: A Two-Channel Theory

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Identification of ambiguous behaviors may be affected by alcohol first by the activation of associated mental representations and second by an increase in the imbiber's motivation of need for closure (NFC; A. Kruglanski, 1989), because cognitive effort is increased for epistemic activities. Combined, these effects should increase correspondence between mental representations of alcohol and the identification of others' behaviors. Three studies were conducted to test this hypothesis. The results were consistent with this hypothesis: Participants who associated alcohol with amiable concepts perceived less aggressive intent when blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) were high versus low. Alternatively, those who associated alcohol with aggressive concepts perceived the same or more aggressive intent when BACs were high versus low. Priming alcohol concepts and trait-level NFC were also sufficient to replicate these effects.

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