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Hearing Alcohol-Related Words Boosts Aggression

Update Date: Jun 05, 2014 09:18 PM EDT
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Hearing words associated to alcohol may have the same effect as drinking, according to a new study.

Researchers found that that exposure to alcohol-related terms increases aggressive behavior similar to drinking alcohol. However, this effect only happens in situations where people are provoked.

Lead researcher Dr. Eduardo Vasquez of the University of Kent in the UK and others from two US universities, demonstrated in two experiments that participants exhibited aggression following exposure to alcohol-related words - known as alcohol priming. This effect was demonstrated in situations when they were provoked in a way that was ambiguous or not obvious.

Lead researcher Dr. Eduardo Vasquez of the University of Kent in the UK and others from two US universities, conducted two experiments observing how people exhibited aggression following exposure to alcohol-related words - known as alcohol priming.

Researchers found that alcohol-related words increased aggression even when people felt provoked in a way that was ambiguous.

"These results provide another strong demonstration that exposing someone to alcohol-related words alone can influence social behavior in ways that are consistent with the effects of alcohol consumption," Vasquez, of Kent's School of Psychology, said in a news release.

"Our research also examined the parameters within which alcohol priming is likely to affect aggression. These effects seem to occur primarily when the provocation is not clear-cut and obvious, and are thus more open to interpretation. Under alcohol priming, the interpretation becomes more negative, and people become more aggressive," he added.

"We've shown that people attending events where alcohol is typically present do not have to drink to experience, or be subject to, the aggression-enhancing effects of alcohol, a fact that would seem to suggest caution in all such environments," Vasquez concluded.

The findings were published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

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