Ph.D., University of Georgia, 2003
Determinants of aggressive behavior; alcohol-related aggression, campus sexual violence
My NIAAA funded research program aims to reduce interpersonal violence by (1) identifying risk and protective factors for perpetrating aggressive behavior and (2) informing intervention programming. This work uses different methodologies (e.g., laboratory, survey) to study different forms of aggression (e.g., physical, sexual) toward various targets (e.g., sexual minorities, women) and under different conditions (e.g., alcohol intoxication, in group settings).
Alcohol and Aggression
While it is well-accepted that alcohol facilitates aggression, not every person becomes aggressive after drinking alcohol. To elucidate this complex relation, my research program seeks to identify individual and situational variables that increase (or decrease) the likelihood that alcohol intoxication will lead to aggression. The end goals of this work are to develop a risk profile that delimits for whom, and under what circumstances, alcohol is most likely to facilitate aggression, and to inform intervention programming to reduce intoxicated aggression. To this end, we have identified a number of variables (e.g., trait anger, anger control) that moderate alcohol’s affect on aggression (including intimate partner aggression).
We are currently using alcohol myopia theory as a theoretical framework to inform our research in order to inform interventions that may reduce or prevent alcohol-related violence. For instance, our research demonstrates that cognitive distraction manipulations reduce intoxicated men’s physical aggression and attention-allocation toward aggression-themed stimuli below that of sober men (Gallagher & Parrott, 2011). As an extension of this work, we have also shown that self-awareness manipulations reduce intoxicated heavy drinking men’s physical aggression toward women (Gallagher & Parrott, 2015). Similar research has suggested modifiable determinants (e.g., locus of control, mindfulness) that may weaken the association between alcohol and physical and sexual aggression toward intimate partners (Gallagher & Parrott, 2010; Gallagher, Hudepohl, & Parrott, 2010). Collectively, this work has direct implications for risk assessment and intervention.
Bystander Intervention for Sexual Violence
Campus sexual violence has long been a significant public health concern and has recently come under intense public scrutiny as colleges and universities have been under intense pressure to implement evidence-based sexual violence prevention programs. One promising prevention approach is bystander intervention programs; however, the evidence-base to support these programs is largely based upon outcome variables that are precursors to bystander behavior (e.g., perceived social norms, confidence to intervene, willingness to intervene) rather than actual bystander behavior. In response to this weakness in the literature, we have developed valid laboratory-based analogues of bystander intervention behavior for sexual violence and are using these methods to better understand the variables which facilitate and inhibit prosocial bystander behavior for sexual violence (e.g., Leone & Parrott, 2014; Parrott et al., 2012).
Aggression Toward Sexual Minorities
A fundamental end goal of my research program is to better understand the variables that influence the relation between alcohol and aggression toward sexual minorities. Our work has established sexual prejudice, endorsement of traditional gender norms, and anger in response to homosexuality as critical determinants of aggression based on sexual orientation. Ongoing research continues to investigate different risk factors (e.g., religious fundamentalism, HIV/AIDS stigma) and theoretically-based motivations (e.g., gender role enforcement, peer dynamics) that facilitate aggression toward sexual minorities. Our work has produced the first data that directly explains how alcohol intoxication facilitates aggression toward sexual minorities (Leone & Parrott, 2015; Parrott & Lisco, in press; Parrott et al., 2010).
A multisite NIAAA-funded project (2012-2017) is being conducted at GSU and Purdue University (Co-PI Christopher Eckhardt) that will extend prior work beyond the issue of whether alcohol is associated with intimate partner violence, and instead examine how specific affective and cognitive processes mediate the relationship between alcohol intoxication and partner-directed aggression. In addition, this project will empirically examine how theoretically-informed intervention manipulations may minimize the hypothesized effect of alcohol-facilitated cognitive impairments on aggression. In addition, additional ongoing projects address the major areas of focus described above. Doctoral students are actively involved in the analysis and dissemination of data from these projects.
I currently supervise a specialized practicum team that conducts brief motivational interventions for heavy drinking men and women. This work is consistent with my clinical interests involve the assessment and treatment of adults with substance use and anger-related difficulties. I conceptualize addictive and violent behaviors from a social learning perspective, while also recognizing the myriad of other factors that may influence these maladaptive behaviors (e.g., neuropsychological, genetic, etc.). I emphasize a cognitive-behavioral and motivational approach to therapy and am committed to applying the most current empirical findings to treatment protocols.
Associate Editor, Psychology of Violence
Executive Secretary, International Society for Research on Aggression
For a list of my publications, please see my Google Scholar profile.