Laura E. Watkins http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2207-6175
Date of this Version
Published in Substance Use & Misuse, 2023
Background: The role of alcohol expectancies and evaluations (i.e., perceived outcomes of drinking and whether these outcomes are desirable) in alcohol-related intimate partner aggression (IPA) has been debated, with some researchers arguing that expectancies fully account for the alcohol-IPA relationship and others suggesting they play a minimal if any role in alcohol-related IPA. In the current study, we examine the impact of expectancies and evaluations on alcohol-related IPA observed in the lab, in order to clarify what impact, if any, alcohol expectancies have on alcohol-related IPA. Consistent with findings from laboratory studies examining general aggression, we expected that individuals who were intoxicated would display greater IPA than individuals who were sober, but that alcohol expectancies and evaluations would be unrelated to in vivo IPA.
Method: Participants were 69 dating couples (total N = 138), randomly assigned to consume either an alcohol or placebo beverage. IPA was measured with an in vivo aggression task based on the Taylor Aggression Paradigm.
Results: As expected, alcohol intoxication predicted in vivo IPA following provocation (p < .03), whereas alcohol expectancies and evaluations were not related to IPA.
Conclusions: These findings provide further support that alcohol expectancies and evaluations play little if any role in alcohol-related IPA. Rather, intoxication likely increases risk for IPA through its physiological effects on perception and thought. Further, treatments targeting alcohol use, rather than beliefs about outcomes of drinking, may have a greater impact on alcohol-related IPA.