Psychology (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Jessica Brooks


The term intimate partner violence (IPV) refers to any act of aggression (physical or emotional) committed within an intimate relationship by one partner against the other, regardless of gender, sexual intimacy, or sexual orientation. One of the leading risk factors for IPV is the regular abuse of alcohol (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2014). High levels of alcohol consumption predict an increase in aggression in individuals with aggressive dispositions (Barnwell et al., 2006). Extensive research exists on the relationship between alcohol use and IPV, yet there is a dearth in the literature investigating the complexities of the alcohol use-IPV relationship with automatic aggression- and alcohol-related cognition as mediating factors. The current study sought to investigate these relationships in a sample of 126 college students (Mage = 19.66; SD = 1.46) who were characterized as “social” drinkers (based on the AUDIT screening questionnaire). Correlational analyses revealed a significant relationship between problem drinking and forms of IPV (e.g., sexual coercion and physical assault), as well as between problem drinking and anger as a form of aggression. Results revealed that the strength of negative attitudes associated with violence was relative to the context in which it is being evaluated (e.g., alcohol or recreational behaviors). Furthermore, we were unable to find a significant mediated link between problem drinking and IPV with aggressive tendencies as the mediator. These findings elucidate the complex relationships between cognitive processes, aggressive dispositions, problematic alcohol use, and IPV. Implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed.