Reaching Others University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
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Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD

Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD

RIA Director
Senior Research Scientist

Clinical Psychology

Research Professor, Psychiatry
Research Professor, Psychology

Contact Information

1021 Main Street
Buffalo, NY  14203-1016
Phone: (716) 887-2566
Google Scholar

Primary Research Areas

Marital/family processes; parenting and infant development; interpersonal aggression; bar violence; domestic violence.

Proximal Effects of Marijuana in Understanding Intimate Partner Violence

Testa | Derrick | Leonard | Collins
The acute effects of marijuana use within couples will be examined as a way of understanding the potential role of marijuana in understanding partner aggression, both immediately after use, and as it develops over time

Although marijuana is commonly believed to suppress aggression, surveys consistently reveal positive associations between marijuana use and perpetration of intimate partner violence. However, it is not known whether on a proximal, event level marijuana use results in affective, cognitive, or behavioral effects consistent with partner aggression. The current study addresses this gap with a 30 day, ecological momentary assessment (EMA) study of marijuana use and couple functioning in a sample of young couples in which one or both partners use marijuana. Couples will be followed for one year, to determine whether marijuana use or its immediate consequence influence relationship functioning and stability over time.  Dr.Testa's co-investigators include Drs. Jaye Derrick, Kenneth Leonard of RIA, and Lorraine Collins of the School of Public Health and Health Professions. Funded by a grant of $1,862,243 from NIDA, 2013-2017.

Men’s Alcohol Use and Perpetration of Sexual Aggression

Testa | Leonard | Parks
The role of college men’s alcohol use in sexual aggression perpetration will be examined using 1) a prospective survey study over five semesters and 2) a 56-day daily report study considering whether drinking episodes increase the odds of subsequent sexual aggression.

In this project, Dr. Testa and colleagues will consider the impact of men’s alcohol consumption on their perpetration of sexual aggression. Two studies of college freshman males are being conducted following recruitment of 1,850 participants from two entering cohorts of male freshmen. In the first study, web-based, prospective survey methods will be used to examine whether the frequency of heavy episodic drinking predicts subsequent sexual aggression over the first five semesters of college. In a second study, a subsample of 324 men will make eight weeks of daily reports on drinking and sexual behavior using interactive voice response (IVR) technology. It is hypothesized that the relationship between alcohol use and sexual aggression is moderated by several individual differences variables, such as sex-related alcohol expectancies, hostile masculinity, and impersonal sexuality. These moderators will be considered both at the distal, prospective level and also at the proximal, daily level. Findings from the two studies are expected to provide significant new knowledge about the role of alcohol in men’s perpetration of sexual aggression and aid in the development of efficacious sexual aggression prevention programs. Funded with a grant of $2,078,526 from NIAAA, 2010-2015.

Study of Health and Adult Relationship Experiences

Leonard | Testa | Quigley | Houston | Homish
Researchers examined the relationship between heavy drinking, impulsivity and aggression in married couples.

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.

Alcohol and Couples Communication

Testa | Leonard | Quigley
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.

Research Training on Alcohol Etiology and Treatment

Leonard | Collins
This grant funds a postdoctoral training program for scientists planning a career in addictions research.

The goal of the program, established in 2000, is to provide specialized postdoctoral training to scientists in preparation for conducting addictions research. The program provides quality research training on (1) the etiology and course of alcohol use and misuse and (2) treatment for alcohol use disorders. Trainees are assigned a specific preceptor, based on their research interests. The preceptor provides training in conceptualization, methodology, and ethics of research in the trainee’s primary area of study. The program also includes several seminar components, including Foundations of Interdisciplinary Alcohol Research, Current Alcohol Research (including a monthly “journal club”), Grant Writing, and Professional Issues and Career Development. Funded by a grant of $1,760,016 from NIAAA, 2010-2015.

Parenting and Infant Development in Alcoholic Families

Eiden | Leonard | Edwards | Grohman | Colder

This longitudinal study examines the role of parents’ alcohol problems on developmental trajectories of children’s self-regulation, peer relationships, and cognitive development using a transactional approach that considers multiple influences on parenting and child development. These include factors associated with parents’ alcohol problems such as depression and antisocial behavior as well as contextual factors such as marital aggression, life stress, and support. From 1994-2004, families were assessed when children were 12, 18, 24, 36 months of age, at 4 years, and upon entry into kindergarten. In infancy, the primary focus was on examining the parent-child relationship. In the toddler and preschool period, measures of children’s emerging self-regulatory abilities were added. In school age, the focus shifted to include classroom behavior and peer relationships, while continuing to assess the development of self-regulation. At every age, the quality of parent-child interactions were assessed using observational measures. Parents’ psychological problems, relationships with partners, stress, and support were also assessed at each age. In this continuation, families are assessed when children are in fourth and sixth grade. Assessments focus on peer relationships, self-regulation, cognitions about substance use, parenting, and family processes. In addition to Drs. Eiden and Leonard, the continuation study team includes Drs. Craig Colder, UB Department of Psychology; Kerry Grohman, VA Western New York Healthcare System; and Ellen Edwards, Capella University. Funded by a grant of $3,342,981 from NIAAA, 2005-2012.

Alcohol and Bar Violence

Leonard | Collins | Quigley

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.

Alcohol and Early Marriage: Spouse and Peer Influence

This extended Dr. Kenneth Leonard’s previous examination of drinking patterns and alcohol-related problems in young couples beginning with the time of application for a first marriage license, and including celebration of their seventh and ninth anniversaries. The study included the impact of parenthood, major life events, and environmental stressors on couples’ drinking and drinking problems. Funded by an award of $1,525,391 from NIAAA, 2005-2010.