A Moderator Model of Alcohol Use and Dating Aggression among Young Adults

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Dating aggression has been identified as a priority public health concern. Although alcohol use is a known robust risk factor for dating aggression involvement, such usage is neither necessary nor sufficient for dating aggression involvement. As such, a growing topic of interest is a better understanding of when, and for whom, alcohol use increases risk. A theoretical moderator model posits that associations between alcohol use and dating aggression involvement vary depending on both background (e.g., psychopathology) and situational (e.g., relationship characteristics) risk factors. Alcohol use is thought to be more strongly associated with dating aggression in the context of these other risk factors. Using an intensive longitudinal design, we collected six waves of data spanning 6 months from 120 participants (60 females; M age W1 = 22.44). Alcohol use and relationship risk were both associated with increases in dating aggression involvement. Consistent with a moderator model, interactions emerged between alcohol use and relationship risk for subsequent dating aggression involvement. The findings underscore the importance of alcohol use and relationship risk for the development of intervention and prevention programs.

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