Investigation of a typology of alcohol-related violence defined by ultimate goals
Howard, Richard C.
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Purpose. Alcohol-related violence is a serious problem and treatments for high-risk individuals need to be developed. Classification helps to route people into appropriate treatments. Drawing on animal research, we define alcohol-related violence in relation to ultimate goals. We propose three types of violence: (1) violence in the pursuit of material goals, (2) violence in pursuit of social dominance goals, and (3) violence as defence in response to threat. The aim is to explore factors that we expect to relate to this tripartite typology, with the aim of providing a preliminary validation. Method. Participants were 149 young male prisoners who had committed an offence of violence that was alcohol related. Semi-structured interviews elicited information about the offence that enabled classification into one of the three types. Differences between groups were examined at the event level - level of violence during the offence and alcohol consumption before the offence - and at group level - trait aggression, trait anxiety, anger control, and alcohol-aggression outcome expectancies. Results. No differences were found in levels of violence or alcohol consumption. Those whose violence was in the pursuit of material goals were high on trait aggression, trait anger, trait anxiety, and anger suppression. Those who used violence in the pursuit of social dominance showed high trait aggression and trait anger. Those whose violence was a defence in response to threat showed lower trait aggression and trait anger. Conclusion. The findings are discussed in relation to differential group profiles and treatment needs. © 2010 The British Psychological Society.