Getting drunk makes some people more aggressive. I think just about everyone can agree that this statement is a fact, but in case you doubt, I assure you that there have been several scientific studies that support the assertion.
Then again, there are those people out there who are just aggressive no matter what state of sobriety they’re in. There are many personality traits that play into aggression, but one of the major ones is whether or not you take a second to consider the consequences of your actions. This may seem like an obvious idea, but there are those out there who just don’t do this very well. It’s not a choice for them.
So, putting two and two together, one might think that there’s a link between which individuals become aggressive when drunk and those individuals who don’t bother or can’t bother to take the time to gaze into their own crystal ball. However, there’s never been a research study on the subject.
Well, at least until now.
Brad Bushman from the Ohio State University led a team of researchers in an experiment designed to test this hypothesis. They recruited 495 healthy adult social drinkers and asked them to come into the study 24-hours sober. Then, they gave half the group real screwdrivers and the other half orange juice with a touch of alcohol deposited on top and a spritz of alcohol on the rim in order to fool them into thinking they had had a cocktail.
They then set to work on peaking their aggression levels. And what better way to piss someone off than by electrocuting them.
Each participant sat across from another and played a little game on response time. Whoever was the quickest in each trial got to shock the other for however long he or she wanted. Everyone believed the person they were playing against was intoxicated and everyone believed the experiment was designed to gauge alcohol’s effect on response times.
However, each pair also had a moderator who measured their levels of aggression. After the study was over, the researchers compared the results with a survey each participant filled out beforehand designed to gauge how well each is able to consider the consequences of their actions.
The results showed a clear connection. Those who had real screwdrivers were more likely to be more aggressive than those who hadn’t, and those who scored low on their ability to weigh the future also were more likely to be aggressive. But when correlating both together, there was a clear connection between being both inebriated and unmindful of the future and aggressive behavior.
Conclusion? Those who don’t realize they’ll have to deal with a broken hand if they punch the wall or jail if they punch that face fare even worse when drunk. And those who pretty much always show restraint are just as likely to stay out of trouble when guzzling the booze.
In short, alcohol seems to magnify aggressive tendencies that are already there, not create them out of thin air.