Alcohol, Anger and Genetics May Increase the Risk of Intimate Partner Violence


Newswise — Intimate partner violence (IPV) is prevalent, affecting individuals from adolescence through adulthood. While alcohol is a known contributing cause of IPV, researchers are examining why some individuals who drink become violent but others who drink do not. These results and others will be shared at the 41st annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) in San Diego June 17-21.

“My research examines psychological factors – such as anger – and biological factors – such as genetic risk – that may influence the association between alcohol and IPV among young adults,” said Ryan Shorey, assistant professor in the department of psychology at Ohio University as well as friend-adjunct assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Shorey will discuss his findings at the RSA meeting on June 20.

“We have found that something called ‘state negative affect’ impacts the association,” he said. “That is, when you drink and you are angry, the risk of being physically and psychologically aggressive increases compared to when you drink and are not angry. In addition, individuals who generally have more difficulties managing their anger, or are prone to become angry, are more likely to be aggressive when they drink.”

Another way to identify increased risk for IPV is to look at genetic information. “It is possible that people with certain genetic backgrounds are predisposed to become aggressive when they drink,” said Shorey. “We are examining if a set of genes thought to be related to impulsivity and emotion dysregulation increases the chances that drinking will lead to IPV perpetration

“Members of] the public can benefit from this information by understanding the risk that alcohol may have for intimate relationships,” said Shorey. “Although not everyone who drinks alcohol becomes aggressive with their partners, alcohol does increase the risk for IPV. So, when individuals are angry with their partners, that would be a time when alcohol use would be particularly risky. And this risk is present from late adolescence through adulthood.”

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Shorey will discuss his research during the RSA 2018 plenary session on Wednesday, June 20 at 8:00 a.m., “Alcohol-related intimate partner violence,” at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.

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