BUFFALO, NY — Ingesting alcohol can lead to a wide range of feelings and emotions — experiencing joy or sorrow, becoming talkative or pugilistic, breaking into song or reciting poetry … Unfortunately, another reaction can be sexual aggression.
The University at Buffalo today announced a new research study it said will focus on drinking and sexually aggressive behavior. The twist is, it will be done from the male perspective.
Maria Testa, Ph.D, is the lead investigator on the study and a senior research scientist at the university’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA).
“Rates of sexual victimization and perpetration among college students are disturbingly high nationwide,” Testa said. “Furthermore, men’s alcohol consumption and heavy drinking patterns are present in a large proportion of incidents of sexual victimization and aggression among young college students. In order to learn more about what is happening and why, we will talk to young college men.”
The study is supported by a $2 million award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). More than 1,800 male college freshmen will be recruited to participate across the first five semesters of their college experience. To address the gap in knowledge about alcohol-drinking perpetrators, two innovative methods will be employed. According to Testa:
“In the first, a web-based survey method will examine whether heavy drinking actually predicts sexual aggression. In the second, interactive voice response (IVR) technology will be used to examine whether sexually aggressive behavior occurs during or immediately after drinking. This component will include a sub-sample of approximately 300 young men and use IVR to compile daily reports on drinking and sexual behavior over eight weeks.”
Testa said she suspects the relationship between alcohol use and sexual aggression may be influenced by sex-related alcohol expectancies, hostile masculinity, impersonal sexuality and other beliefs and behaviors. She will be examining these variables for their current and future impact.
Testa, a native of Buffalo, earned her doctorate in social psychology at UB, and has been at the Research Institute on Addictions since 1989. She is an expert on the association between alcohol and physical and sexual aggression and, in particular, on how women’s alcohol use increases their vulnerability to sexual assault.
Check out my New York Drinks Events Calendar, the most comprehensive you’ll find anywhere.