Background: To our knowledge, no research has assessed whether young male victims and perpetrators of barroom aggression differ in terms of their drinking patterns and predisposing characteristics. This study assessed the extent that frequent heavy episodic drinking (HED) and bar-going, trait aggression, and hypermasculinity were differentially associated with victimization versus perpetration for aggression occurring among young adult men in the setting of the public drinking establishment.
Methods: A random sample of 2,500 male students attending a local university and a local community college was invited to participate in an online survey. Participants were asked the number of times in the past 12 months they had experienced an incident of aggression at a bar in which (a) someone was physically aggressive toward them and (b) they were physically aggressive toward another person. Responses were coded as (i) any perpetration of aggression, (ii) victim only, (iii) no aggression. A composite variable of HED (5 or more drinks per occasion) and bar-going frequency was computed: (i) both HED and bar ≥ twice a month, (ii) only HED ≥ twice a month, (iii) only bar ≥ twice a month, and (iv) both < twice a month. Standard measures of trait aggression and hypermasculinity were used.
Results: Multivariate multinomial logistic regression analyses revealed that a combination of both frequent HED and frequent bar-going was associated with both perpetration and victimization at a bar (compared to no aggression). Trait aggression and hypermasculinity were associated with perpetration but not with victimization. Logistic regression analyses directly comparing perpetrators with victims indicated that perpetrators were more likely to both drink heavily and go to bars frequently and were more likely to have high levels of trait aggression and hypermasculinity.
Conclusions: While HED is an important target for prevention programming, additional efforts should be directed toward addressing the combination of frequent HED and frequent bar-going as well as underlying aggressive personalities and masculinity concerns among young men.