Senior Research Scientist
The impact of alcohol and alcohol expectancies on the decision-making processes involved in aggressive behavior. Interactional, self-presentational, and social cognitive motivations in anger and violence. The role of alcohol in marital violence.
In this study, Dr.
Leonard examined heavy drinking, cognitive functioning, and
marital satisfaction and conflict in 300 couples over a three-year
time period. Couples in which the husband, wife, both, or neither
are frequent heavy drinkers were recruited. Researchers tested
whether self-regulation skills, in conjunction with heavy drinking,
smoking, and other health issues, influence marital satisfaction,
marital stability, and marital conflict. Funded by an award of
$2,635,812 from NIAAA, 2007-2012.
Testa | Leonard
Two studies considered the acute effects of alcohol use within couples on conflict and aggression: 1) an experimental alcohol administration study using a conflict resolution paradigm and 2) a 56-day daily diary study examining whether drinking episodes increase the odds of subsequent partner aggression.
In this study, Dr. Testa investigated whether acute alcohol consumption is a causal factor in episodes of relationship conflict and aggression among young married and cohabiting couples. First, an experimental study examined the effects of alcohol - administered independently to male and female partners - on communication behaviors and verbal aggression within a conflict resolution paradigm. Second, a daily diary study conducted over eight weeks was used to determine if the likelihood of relationship conflict or aggression occurring on a given day is increased when either the man, the woman, or both have consumed alcohol earlier that day. This study was unique in that it considered women's drinking, in addition to men's drinking, as a potential contributor to relationship conflict and aggression; the daily diary study was the first to examine daily alcohol-relationship conflict in a non-clinical sample, thereby addressing the importance of alcohol in naturally occurring relationship conflict; and lastly, both studies considered the role of potential moderating variables, including propensity toward aggression, behavioral self-control and alcohol expectancies. This research is expected to provide important insight into the causal mechanisms underlying the alcohol-intimate partner aggression relationship. Funded with a grant of $1,938,596 from NIAAA, 2007-2012.
This Scientist Development Award provided Dr. Brian Quigley with the opportunity to engage in career development activities that advanced his knowledge of social cognition and alcohol research. The research examined the structure of alcohol expectancies regarding aggression and how those expectancies, when combined with intoxication, can influence the activation of aggressive cognitions. The first phase of this study was designed to examine if alcohol expectancies relating to aggression could be conceptualized as cognitive-associative memory networks and assessed the validity of three laboratory procedures for examining this question. The second phase used procedures validated in the first study to examine the impact of intoxication and alcohol expectancies on the activation of aggressive cognitions. Dr. Quigley’s mentor on this project was Dr. Kenneth Leonard, RIA. Funded by a grant of $387,700 from NIAAA, 2003-2007.
This project examined the prevalence and predictors of alcohol-related violence among young adults between the ages of 18-30. Results found that of the 1,400 college students and other young adults who participated in the study, one in three men and one in five women had been the target of physical aggression — ranging from shoving to assault with a weapon. Asked whether in the last year they had been the target of, or had initiated, violence, 44 percent of men in the community, 33 percent of college men, 28 percent of women in the community, and 22 percent of college women said yes. Pushing and shoving were the most common forms of aggression experienced, although 15 percent of the men surveyed said a weapon was used against them. Of the women who identified themselves as targets of physical aggression, 22 percent of the women said the incidents occurred in or outside bars, while 34 percent said the incidents occurred in their own home. In addition, the project reported evidence that drinking on the part of the subject did not predict whether or not an aggressive episode occurred, but it did predict the severity and likelihood of injury. Funded by a grant of $918,856 from NIAAA, 1997-2002.