Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Lindsay Ham

Committee Member

Ana Bridges

Second Committee Member

Matthew Feldner


Alcohol, Psychology, Relational Aggression


Alcohol intoxication is consistently linked to physical and sexual aggression in men, but not women. The lack of evidence supporting the relationship between alcohol and aggression for women could be due to a failure to measure relational aggression (i.e., harmful social manipulation), the form of aggression more commonly employed by women. Further, alcohol intoxication may interfere with the interpretation of social cues, resulting in greater perceived provocation in ambiguous social interactions and increased aggression. The current study examined the relationship between alcohol intoxication and relational aggression in women and the extent to which interpretation of social cues (i.e., hostile attribution bias) explains that relationship. Fifty female college students (Mage = 21.82 years, 76% White) were randomly assigned into an alcohol intoxication condition or a control condition and responded to vignettes depicting aggressive acts perpetrated against the respondent using a modified version of the Social Informational Processing-Attribution and Emotional Response Questionnaire (SIP-AEQ; Coccaro, Noblett, & McCloskey, 2009). Based on data from a pilot study designed to validate the modified SIP-AEQ measure, I isolated two vignettes that were the most likely to elicit relational aggression: the “telling secret” and “disinvited” vignettes. Overall, I found partial support for the primary hypothesis that alcohol intoxication would impact relational aggression. In the “telling secret” vignette, participants in the alcohol condition were significantly more willing to damage the reputation of the transgressor compared to the sober condition. Hostile attribution bias did not significantly vary as a function of alcohol intoxication and hostile attribution bias did not significantly mediate the relationship between alcohol and relational aggression. If replicated, findings suggest that the relationship between alcohol intoxication and aggression is present in women, when considering one specific form of aggression (i.e., relational aggression: damaging the reputation of others).