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Study Examines Alcohol’s Effects on Sexual Aggression

A new Aggressive Behavior study has examined alcohol’s “in the moment” effects on sexual aggression, or the acute effects of alcohol on men’s decisions about how to respond to sexual refusals in a dating simulation.

Thursday, July 5, 2018 12:01 am EDT

A new Aggressive Behavior study has examined alcohol’s “in the moment” effects on sexual aggression, or the acute effects of alcohol on men’s decisions about how to respond to sexual refusals in a dating simulation.


In the study, 62 men in their 20s were randomly assigned to consume alcohol (target breath alcohol level 0.080%) or no alcohol. Participants were encouraged to talk to a simulated woman as if they were on a date, and they made choices from a list which included nonsexual and sexual options. The female agent was programmed to engage in some sexual activities but refuse others, and her refusals became more intense if participants persisted.


As predicted, participants' self-reported desire to have sex was positively associated with choosing activities in which the woman willingly engaged. Consensual sexual activities were positively associated with the number of times participants persisted after the woman refused. Alcohol moderated this relationship such that it was stronger for intoxicated men than sober men. The more sexual refusals participants received, the more hostile verbal comments they made to the woman. Contrary to the investigators’ predictions, this relationship was not moderated by alcohol.


“We found that when a man is sexually interested in a woman, being intoxicated increases the likelihood that he will be more persistent pushing sex, even when she clearly refuses his advances. Furthermore, being sexually refused is associated with making hostile comments to the woman, regardless of whether or not the men were drinking,” said lead author Dr. Jacqueline Woerner, currently at Yale University School of Medicine.

Additional Information

Link to study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ab.21773

About Jounal

Aggressive Behavior will consider manuscripts in the English language concerning the fields of Animal Behavior, Anthropology, Ethology, Psychiatry, Psychobiology, Psychology, and Sociology which relate to either overt or implied conflict behaviors. Papers concerning mechanisms underlying or influencing behaviors generally regarded as aggressive and the physiological and/or behavioral consequences of being subject to such behaviors will fall within the scope of the journal. Review articles will be considered as well as empirical and theoretical articles.

Aggressive Behavior is the official journal of the International Society for Research on Aggression.

About Wiley 

Wiley, a global research and learning company, helps people and organizations develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Our online scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, combined with our digital learning, assessment and certification solutions help universities, learned societies, businesses, governments and individuals increase the academic and professional impact of their work. For more than 210 years, we have delivered consistent performance to our stakeholders. The company's website can be accessed at www.wiley.com.

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