Is Alcohol-Related Aggression Related to Automatic Alcohol–Power or Alcohol–Aggression Associations?

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Abstract

Objective: One of the risks of alcohol use is violent behavior. The aim of the current study was to explore the role of automatic cognitive associations between alcohol and power and between alcohol and aggression in alcohol-related aggression and to test the moderating role of executive control. Method: Implicit association tests (IATs) were used to measure alcohol–power and alcohol–aggression associations in a sample of adolescents. The classical Stroop task was used to assess executive control. The tendency toward alcohol-related aggression was measured via self-report. Results: Alcohol–power associations predicted self-reported alcohol-related aggression, but there was no significant moderation by executive control. Alcohol–aggression associations did not predict self-reported alcohol-related aggression. Mathematical modeling was used to further explore differences between alcohol–power and alcohol–aggression associations. This analysis tentatively indicated that participants may have had a stronger tendency to overcome the bias in the alcohol–aggression IAT. Conclusions: Alcohol–power associations, but not alcohol–aggression associations, predicted alcohol-related aggression. Participants appear to exert more control when dealing with aggression- than with power-related alcohol associations, which may therefore better predict alcohol-related aggression. Implicit measures in combination with modeling techniques may be important in further disentangling the automatic processes involved in alcohol-related aggressive behavior, but the relationship between alcohol and power appears to be an essential factor.

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