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.