Acute Alcohol Intoxication, State Anger, and Sexual Assault Perpetration: The Role of State Emotion Regulation

Elizabeth C. Neilson, Lauren Smith, Kelly Cue Davis, William H. George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: Alcohol-involved sexual assault remains a pervasive problem, with extensive individual- and societal-level costs. Emotion regulation (ER), the process through which an individual modulates emotional states, remains an understudied predictor of sexual assault perpetration, with the past research focusing on general ER tendencies (e.g., trait ER) as predictors of sexual assault perpetration. This study sought to examine the associations between state ER on sexual assault perpetration in the context of state anger and acute alcohol intoxication. Method: Single, male social drinkers aged 21–30 with a history of sexual risktaking (N = 92) participated in an alcohol administration paradigm and were randomly assigned to an alcohol condition [sober control vs. intoxicated (BrAC = .10%)]. Intoxicated and sober participants completed a sexual assault analogue that assessed state anger, state ER, and sexual assault perpetration intentions against a hypothetical female partner. Results: Path analysis demonstrated interactive effects of state ER and state anger on sexual assault perpetration intentions. Relative to men with low and moderate levels of anger, state ER was associated with lower intentions to perpetrate sexual assault for men with high levels of anger. Alcohol intoxication did not directly predict state ER, state anger, or sexual assault perpetration intentions. Conclusions: The results suggested that state ER may be protective against sexual assault perpetration for men who experience anger in response to a partner’s expression of nonconsent. Because replication is necessary, the results carry tentative implications for state ER as an intervention target for sexual assault prevention programming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-51
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Alcohol administration
  • Emotion regulation
  • Sexual assault perpetration
  • State anger

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology


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