Psychology ETDs

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Research has indicated a complex relationship between alcohol and aggression involving personality as well as situational variables. Recently it has been found that expectancy of receiving alcohol has a more potent effect (on many behavioral measures including aggression) than does actual receipt of alcohol. In addition, alcohol has been found to increase power fantasies in males, leading many researchers to associate power fantasies with powerful actions such as aggression. The present study examined the effects of alcohol and expectancy upon aggression and power fantasies in male social drinkers. In the first phase of the study, 30 male college students over the age of 21 were given the MMPI and were asked to give consent to receive alcohol in a later session. In the second phase of the study, subjects were divided into four groups of a 2 x 2 factorial combination of presence or absence of expectancy and of alcohol. Within the two groups receiving alcohol, half expected alcohol and half did not, and in the two groups expecting alcohol half received it and half did not. All groups were administered a modified Thematic Apperception Test fantasy measure before and after experimental treatment as a means of measuring power fantasies. After treatment all groups participated in a pseudo-reaction time task designed to measure aggression via shock levels purportedly administered to a competitor. Pre-treatment measures of power fantasies were then compared to post-treatment measures, as a function of the experimental condition of the subject. Aggression measures were compared among experimental groups and correlations between MMPI scales and aggression were derived. The results indicated no difference in amount of power fantasies or amount of aggression as a function of group membership Furthermore, power fantasies were not found to increase as a result of any of the experimental manipulations. No relationship was found between power fantasies and aggression, and no MMPI scales were found to be good predictors of aggression or fantasy. The major implication of this study is that expectancy is not a more potent precipitator of aggression than is alcohol, and that neither variable appeared to affect aggression to any degree. In addition, no significant relationship was found between aggression and power fantasies. This finding argues against interpreting aggression in the presence of alcohol as due to power fantasies. The absence of any significant relationships between MMPI scales and either aggression or fantasy leads to the conclusion that alcohol induced aggression or fantasy are not related to pathology as measured by individual scales of the MMPI. A number of methodological difficulties are discussed that could account for the absence of effects in the present study.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

William Richard Miller

Second Committee Member

Richard Jerome Harris

Third Committee Member

Sidney Rosenblum

Fourth Committee Member

Ralph David Norman



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Psychology Commons