Caffeinated and non-caffeinated alcohol use and indirect aggression: The impact of self-regulation

Addict Behav. 2016 Jul:58:53-9. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.02.002. Epub 2016 Feb 9.


Research shows that heavier alcohol use is associated with physical aggression. Scant research has examined the way in which alcohol relates to other forms of aggression, such as indirect aggression (e.g., malicious humor, social exclusion). Given the possible negative consequences of indirect aggression and the limited evidence suggesting alcohol use can elicit indirectly aggressive responses, research is needed to further investigate the association between drinking behavior and indirect aggression. Additionally, specific alcoholic beverages, such as caffeinated alcoholic beverages (CABs; e.g., Red Bull and vodka), may potentiate aggression above the influence of typical use, and thus warrant examination with regard to indirect aggression. One factor that may impact the strength of the alcohol-indirect aggression and CAB-indirect aggression relationships is one's level of self-regulation. Consequently, our study examined the relationships between (1) alcohol use and indirect aggression, (2) CAB use and indirect aggression, and (3) self-regulation as a moderator. Participants were 733 (67.6% female) undergraduate students who reported their CAB and alcohol use, self-regulation, and aggressive behaviors. Results revealed that heavier alcohol use was associated with more frequent indirect aggression after controlling for dispositional aggression. Heavier CAB use was related to more frequent indirect aggression after accounting for typical use and dispositional aggression. Self-regulation moderated these associations such that for those with lower self-regulation, greater alcohol and CAB consumption was associated with greater indirect aggression. Our findings suggest that heavier alcohol and CAB consumption may be risk factors for engaging in indirect aggression and this risk is impacted by one's regulatory control.

Keywords: Alcohol; Caffeinated alcohol; Indirect aggression; Self-regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcohol Drinking in College / psychology*
  • Alcoholic Beverages*
  • Caffeine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self-Control / psychology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult


  • Caffeine