The effects of alcohol on the aggressive responding of women

Donald M. Dougherty, Don R. Cherek, Robert H. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Objective. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a range of alcohol doses on the aggressive responding of women. Method: The Point Subtraction Aggression Paradigm was used. It has two response options available to the subject: (1) point-maintained responding, emitting 100 responses on one button earned the subject 10 cents; and (2) aggressive responding, emitting 10 responses on an alternative button ostensibly subtracted 10 cents from another person also working to earn money. Aggressive responses were engendered by a random-time schedule of point loss (every 6 sec. to 120 sec.), and instructions attributed these point losses to button presses made by another fictitious subject. Ten female subjects participated, and each experienced placebos and three alcohol doses, 0.25, 0.50, and 1.00 g of 95% alcohol per kg of body weight. Results: The most important finding was that the 1.00 g/kg alcohol dose produced statistically significant increases in aggressive responding relative to placebo. There was, however, a small subset of individuals whose greatest increase in aggressive responding occurred after consuming the 0.25 g/kg alcohol dose. Rates of point-maintained responding were unaffected by the 0.25 and 0.50 g/kg alcohol doses and slightly suppressed by the 1.00 g/kg alcohol dose. Conclusions: These results are important because the handful of previous studies with women have provided little evidence for increased aggression after alcohol consumption in women. These observed inconsistencies between this study and previous studies may be attributed to procedural differences, which have varied considerably across studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-186
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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