Alcohol and violence


Some researchers have argued that variation in behavioural outcomes of drinking reflects differences in individual psychology, such that individuals exhibiting particular personality characteristics are more likely to become aggressive when they consume alcohol (Collins, 1982; Lewis et al, 1983; McCord, 1984; Lang and Sibrel, 1989, etc.). The personality traits claimed to increase such 'susceptibility' – include 'anti-social' personality, power-seeking, sensation-seeking and 'hypermasculinity', as well as aggressiveness. Even leaving aside the question of whether 'personality' expressed in these terms is a meaningful concept or separable from behaviour patterns, the evidence for higher susceptibility to alcohol among individuals with these characteristics is equivocal. The only general conclusion which can be drawn is that people with these traits, in the cultures studied, tend behave aggressively and also tend to drink a lot – not that drinking is more likely to make them aggressive. If anything, the causal effect might even be in the other direction, with aggressiveness being shown to predict alcohol consumption rather than alcohol consumption leading to aggression (White et al, 1993).

Frustration-aggression     Situational factors