The big, the bad, and the boozed-up: Weight moderates the effect of alcohol on aggression

C. Nathan DeWall, Brad J. Bushman, Peter R. Giancola, Gregory D. Webster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Most people avoid the " big, drunk guy" in bars because they do not want to get assaulted. Is this stereotype supported by empirical evidence? Unfortunately, no scientific work has investigated this topic. Based on the recalibrational theory of anger and embodied cognition theory, we predicted that heavier men would behave the most aggressively when intoxicated. In two independent experiments (Ns=553 and 327, respectively), participants consumed either alcohol or placebo beverages and then completed an aggression task in which they could administer painful electric shocks to a fictitious opponent. Both experiments showed that weight interacted with alcohol and gender to predict the highest amount of aggression among intoxicated heavy men. The results suggest that an embodied cognition approach is useful in understanding intoxicated aggression. Apparently there is a kernel of truth in the stereotype of the " big, drunk, aggressive guy." .

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-623
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Aggression
  • Alcohol
  • Cognition
  • Embodied
  • Gender
  • Recalibrational theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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