Pervasive, hard-wired and male: Qualitative study of how UK adolescents view alcohol-related aggression

Whitaker, Lydia, Brown, Stephen L ORCID: 0000-0002-6142-0995, Young, Bridget ORCID: 0000-0001-6041-9901, Fereday, Richard, Coyne, Sarah M and Qualter, Pamela
(2018) Pervasive, hard-wired and male: Qualitative study of how UK adolescents view alcohol-related aggression. PLOS ONE, 13 (2). e0191269-.

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Laboratory studies of alcohol-inexperienced adolescents show that aggression can be primed by alcohol-related stimuli, suggesting that alcohol-related aggression is partly socially learned. Script theory proposes that alcohol-related aggression 'scripts' for social behaviors are culturally-available and learned by individuals. The purpose of the study was to understand the content and origins of alcohol-related aggression scripts learned by adolescents. This qualitative focus group study of 40 adolescents (ages 14-16 years) examined alcohol-related aggression scripts. Participants believed aggression and severe injury to be pervasive when young people drink. Viewed through a biological lens, participants described aggression as an 'instinctive' and 'hard-wired' male trait facilitated by intoxication. As such, alcohol-related aggression was not seen as intended or personally controllable and participants did not see it in moral terms. Females were largely viewed as either bystanders of inter-male aggression or potential victims of male sexual aggression. Participants attributed their views on the frequency and nature of alcohol-related aggression to current affairs and reality television, which they felt portrayed a reality of which they had little experience. The origins of the explicitly biological frameworks that participants used seemed to lie in pre-existing beliefs about the nature of gender differences. Perceptions of the pervasiveness of male alcohol-related aggression, and the consequent failure to view alcohol-related aggression in moral terms, could dispose some young people to alcohol-related aggression. Interventions could target (1) the beliefs that alcohol-related aggression is pervasive and uncontrollable in males, and (2) participants' dysfunctional views of masculinity that underpin those beliefs.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Humans, Adolescent Behavior, Aggression, Alcohol Drinking, Adolescent, Male, United Kingdom
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2018 16:43
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 06:41
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191269
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