The interactive effects of emotion regulation and alcohol intoxication on lab-based intimate partner aggression

Laura E. Watkins, David DiLillo, Rosalita C. Maldonado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


This study draws on Finkel and Eckhardt's (2013) I framework to examine the interactive effects of 2 emotion regulation strategies - anger rumination (an impellance factor) and reappraisal (an inhibition factor), and alcohol intoxication (a disinhibition factor) - on intimate partner aggression (IPA) perpetration as measured with an analogue aggression task. Participants were 69 couples recruited from a large Midwestern university (total N = 138). Participants' trait rumination and reappraisal were measured by self-report. Participants were randomized individually to an alcohol or placebo condition, then recalled an anger event while using 1 of 3 randomly assigned emotion regulation conditions (rumination, reappraisal, or uninstructed). Following this, participants completed an analogue aggression task involving ostensibly assigning white noise blasts to their partner. Participants in the alcohol condition displayed greater IPA than participants in the placebo condition for provoked IPA, but not unprovoked IPA. Results also revealed interactions such that for those in the alcohol and rumination group, higher trait reappraisal was related to lower unprovoked IPA. For provoked IPA, higher trait rumination was related to greater IPA among those in the alcohol and rumination condition and those in the placebo and uninstructed condition. In general, results were consistent with I theory, suggesting that alcohol disinhibits, rumination impels, and trait reappraisal inhibits IPA. The theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed in the context of current knowledge about the influence of alcohol intoxication and emotion regulation strategies on IPA perpetration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-663
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • aggression
  • alcohol intoxication
  • emotion regulation
  • intimate partner violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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