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Is it a fight or are they just drunk?: Attributions about drunken behaviour in a hypothetical Male-to-Male aggression scenario
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).
2006 (English)In: Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, ISSN 1404-3858, Vol. 7, no 1, 61-77 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective. This paper examines the excuse-value of alcohol in a hypothetical provoked male-to-male violence scenario. There are two main questions. Does intoxication result in decreased blame? Does intoxication lessen the propensity to call the police? Methods. 1004 random digit dialing (RDD) quantitative telephone surveys were completed with Swedes aged 16-25. The response rate was 73.8%. Besides the aggressor's intoxication, severity of the outcome, the victim's intoxication and the respondent's hypothetical relationship to the aggressor or to the victim were also randomly manipulated. Whether the police should be called and the attribution of blame to the aggressor have been analysed using ANOVA in SAS. Results. Analyses were stratified by sex. For male respondents, the aggressor's intoxication interacted (four-way) with all the manipulated variables in predicting the attribution of blame. In the more severe act, intoxication tended to reduce blame; the least amount of blame was assigned when both the aggressor and the victim were intoxicated. For female respondents, the aggressor's intoxication was involved in a three-way interaction. For them also, intoxication decreases the blame for the severe acts but not for the less severe acts. The aggressor's intoxication had very little effect on whether the police should be called or not. Discussion. Intoxication provides some excuse from blame but only for certain acts and under certain circumstances. It also changes the way people perceive acts of violence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Informa plc , 2006. Vol. 7, no 1, 61-77 p.
Keyword [en]
Aggression; Alcohol; Excuse; Intoxication; Vignette; Violence
National Category
Law and Society
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-24967DOI: 10.1080/14043850500404205OAI: diva2:198599
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-756Available from: 2005-11-24 Created: 2005-11-24 Last updated: 2011-01-31Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Freedom in a bottle: Young Swedes on rationales and norms for drunken behaviour
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Freedom in a bottle: Young Swedes on rationales and norms for drunken behaviour
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There is today much evidence for a positive relationship between alcohol and violence. There are however still many questions about the nature of the relationship. Somewhat simplified, the research on the link between alcohol and violence can be divided into four different lines of research, research focusing on: the effect of alcohol as a psychoactive substance, the drinking context, the personality of the drinker, and societal attitudes, expectations and values. The dissertation focuses on the last area, the importance of the cultural context. One influential theory within this field is the time-out theory formulated by MacAndrew and Edgerton in the late 1960s. Since drunken comportment varied between cultures and between different contexts within the same culture and changed over time, they suggested that the effects of alcohol on people’s behaviour was socially constructed. They suggest that many societies had a created a time-out situation for drunken behaviour that explained people’s behaviour while drunk.

The general aim for this dissertation is to study young Swedes’ attitudes, experiences and expectations around drunken behaviour, with a special focus on expectancies around alcohol as a cause and excuse for violence. Three different data sets have been used. The first study is based on 4 focus-group interviews with Swedish football fans during the European football championship in Holland in 2000. The second material is eight focus-group interviews involving 47 students aged 18-20 living in Stockholm. The last material is a nationally representative survey of young adults, 16-25 years old. One part of the survey consisted of 4 vignettes which we used to elicit cultural norms around drunken behaviour.

The findings suggest that young Swedes believe that alcohol can be used as a means to accomplish a pleasurable state of mind, and that alcohol could be used as a means to transgression – since alcohol reduce inhibitions it could be used to put them in a less controlled mode. The rationale for those changes was often described in terms of the psychoactive effect of alcohol. However, it was also shown that the context was important. When the situation demanded alcohol the most, their expectations together with the situation almost turned water into beer. It was also shown that there was a norm which said that one should not use alcohol as an excuse, but on the other hand, the participants said that they used alcohol as an excuse and that they thought that it was accepted. Alcohol could work as an excuse since alcohol made the aggressor look less deviant and the acts less severe. The vignette studies indicated that an aggressor who was drunk when he committed a violent act was seen as less blameworthy than a sober or less drunk aggressor. However, this applied only under certain circumstances: alcohol seemed to be a better excuse if the victim is drunk as well and the act is relatively severe.

Taken together, the studies suggest that the Swedish drinking culture provides people with a drunken excuse, which helps young people to expand the room for possible action.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Kriminologiska institutionen, 2005. 66 p.
Avhandlingsserie / Kriminologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, ISSN 1404-1820 ; 18Forskningsrapport (Centrum för socialvetenskaplig alkohol- och drogforskning), ISSN 1650-5441 ; 3
Football supporters, time-out, alcohol, violence, vignette, intoxication, excuse, expectancy
National Category
Law and Society
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-756 (URN)91-7155-168-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2005-12-19, Skandiasalen, hus 15, Kräftriket, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2005-11-24 Created: 2005-11-24Bibliographically approved

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