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Alcohol distills aggression in large men

Study supports notion that bigger men are meaner drunks

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, it may pay to keep in mind that there is a kernel of truth to the stereotype that large men are especially prone to being DWI — dangerous while intoxicated.

When they were drunk, bigger men became especially aggressive when given the opportunity to administer electric shocks to a fictitious opponent in a laboratory contest, say psychologist Nathan DeWall of the University of Kentucky in Lexington and his colleagues. Yet larger men showed no aggression increases after downing a nonalcoholic placebo drink.

Intoxicated women showed little taste for shocking another person in the same experimental contest regardless of their weight, DeWall’s team reports in a paper published online February 25 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Big men under the influence don’t always behave badly, DeWall emphasizes. “There will inevitably be scrawny, intoxicated brawlers and big, nice boozed-up imbibers,” he says.

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