04:26pm Friday 05 June 2020

Alcohol fuelled aggression linked to abusive father-son relationships

The study by researchers with Deakin’s School of Psychology is the first to explore a connection between father-son relationships and barroom violence between men.

“Alcohol consumption and binge drinking are well established as predictors of male-to-male alcohol-related violence,” explained Deakin alcohol and drug expert Associate Professor Peter Miller.

“Male violence and antisocial behaviour is also linked to negative father-son relationships where the father, or father figure, is indifferent, abusive or over-controlling. What has not been previously explored is if there is a connection between father-son relationships and male-to-male alcohol-related aggression.”

The study evaluated the responses of 121 men aged 18 to 25 years to a questionnaire designed to assess alcohol consumption, levels of male barroom aggression, fathering style and roles modelled by their fathers.

“We found that young men who had abusive fathers were more likely to be involved in alcohol fuelled violence and that consuming five or more drinks when at bars or clubs increased the likelihood of barroom brawls,” Associate Professor Miller said.

Study co-author, Ms Jessica Hargreaves, added: “These results could indicate that young men who had an abusive relationship with their father could turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism and when they did drink they consumed substantial amounts of alcohol, enough to impair their judgement leading to misinterpreting situations and increasing their likelihood of being involved in violence.

“The scars of an abusive father carry into adulthood for some young men, increasing the likelihood of them being involved in alcohol-related violence with other men, providing an avenue for identifying men at most risk of alcohol related behavioural problems,” Ms Hargreaves said.

The results of the study, ‘The Association Between an Abusive Father–Son Relationship, Quantity of Alcohol Consumption, and Male-to-Male Alcohol-Related Aggression’, will be published in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research and are currently available in the Early View online.

Media contact


Peter Miller
School of Psychology
0429 024 844
[email protected]

Mandi O’Garretty
Deakin Media Relations
03 5227 2776; 0418 361 890

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