Drinking and Anger

Study examines link between alcohol and aggression

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TUESDAY, June 17, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- People who express their anger outwardly face a high risk of alcohol-related aggression when they're provoked.

So says a University of Georgia study in the June issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The study of the effects of anger on alcohol-related aggression also found that intoxicated people display more angry facial expressions than sober people.

Researchers studied 136 male social drinkers between the ages of 18 and 30. The 63 men in the test group were given two orange juice-and-ethanol beverages to bring their blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 percent. The 73 men in the control group were given just orange juice.

All the subjects were told they were going to compete against another individual in a reaction time task, which was actually fictitious. They were told that during that task, they might receive electric shocks from their opponent.

While the subjects did the fictitious reaction time task, they were subjected to high and low shock levels or "provocation." A special coding system was used to assess their experience of anger while this was happening.

The study found the intoxicated men displayed more facial anger than the sober men.

The intoxicated men also demonstrated a strong relationship between facial expressions of anger and the tendency to express anger after receiving a high level of shock. But this did not happen when they were given a low level of shock.

"Our findings strengthen the notion that alcohol increases the likelihood that certain drinkers, particularly those with the tendency to be angry and to express their anger outwardly, become aggressive when provoked," study co-author Dominic Parrott says in a news release.

More information

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SOURCE: Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, news release, June 15, 2003
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