Implicit alcohol-aggression scripts and alcohol-related aggression on a laboratory task in 11- to 14-year-old adolescents

Stephen Brown, Sigrid Lipka, Sarah Coyne, Pamela Qualter, Alexandra Barlow, Paul Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social scripts are commonly shared representations of behavior in social contexts, which are seen to be partly transmitted through social and cultural media. Research suggests that people hold scripts associated with alcohol-related aggression, but, unlike general aggression scripts, there is little evidence of social transmission. To demonstrate social transmission of alcohol-related aggression scripts, learning mechanisms based on personal experience should be minimized. We used a lexical decision task to examine implicit links between alcohol and aggression in alcohol-naïve adolescents who have limited personal or vicarious experience of alcohol-related aggression. One hundred and four 11–14 year old adolescents made lexical decisions on aggressive or nonaggressive words preceded by 40-ms alcohol or nonalcohol word primes. Repeated measures analyses of group data showed that alcohol word primes did not lead to faster responses to aggressive words than to nonaggressive words, nor were responses to aggressive words faster when they were preceded by alcohol word primes than by nonalcohol word primes. However, at an individual level, faster recognition times to the alcohol prime/aggression target word combination predicted aggression on a competitive laboratory task in 14 year olds only. This occurred only when the competitive aggression task was preceded by a visual presentation of alcoholic, but not nonalcoholic beverage, images. We concluded that alcohol-related aggression scripts are not strongly developed in this age group, but individual differences in script strength are linked to alcohol-related laboratory aggression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-439
Number of pages10
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


  • Aggression
  • Alcohol
  • Implicit measures
  • Social scripts


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