Alcohol-related violence defined by ultimate goals: a qualitative analysis of the features of three different types of violence by intoxicated young male offenders



Based upon a functional approach to understanding aggression, we aimed to identify the occurrence of and to describe the features of three types of alcohol-related violence defined a priori by ultimate goals: (1) violence in pursuit of nonsocial profit-based goals, (2) violence in pursuit of social dominance goals, and (3) violence as defence in response to threat. A sample of 149 young men with offences of violence that were alcohol related was interviewed. Cases were classified and detailed information from the first ten cases in each class (N=30) was subjected to thematic analysis. Intoxicated violence in pursuit of nonsocial profit-based goals was opportunistic and motivated by the desire for more alcohol or drugs. Violence, in these cases, although serious, appeared to be brief. Intoxicated violence in pursuit of social dominance goals was typically precipitated by past or current insult or injury, and was accompanied by strong anger and an adrenaline rush. Attacks were ferocious, and robbing the victim was not uncommon, perhaps to inflict additional humiliation. Feelings of pride and satisfaction were typical and expressions of remorse were uncommon. Regarding intoxicated violence as defence in response to threat, attacks were often expected, and in some cases the respondent made a pre-emptive strike. Weapon use was common in this group. Fear was experienced, but so too was anger. Feelings of excitement were not reported and remorse was common. Further validation of these types is warranted, and the potential implications of these findings for prevention and treatment are discussed. Aggr. Behav. 36:67–79, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.