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Trait Anger, Heavy Drinking, and Intimate Partner Aggression: The Role of Experiential Avoidance
Purpose: Prior research has demonstrated significant associations among anger, heavy drinking, and intimate partner aggression (IPA). However, less is known about how anger and heavy drinking relate, to predict IPA perpetration. The present research examined whether trait anger relates to IPA perpetration indirectly through heavy drinking, and whether the association of anger to heavy drinking is moderated by experiential avoidance (EA)—or an individual’s tendency to avoid distressing internal experiences—such that the indirect association of anger to heavy drinking is stronger among those high in EA relative to those low in EA. Methods: 538 participants recruited from a Midwestern University and Mechanical Turk completed questionnaires about anger, heavy drinking, EA, and IPA perpetration. A moderated mediation model examining the associations among variables was tested using the PROCESS macro for SPSS. Results: Trait anger predicted IPA perpetration through its relation to heavy drinking. However, EA did not moderate the association of anger to heavy drinking to predict IPA perpetration. Exploratory analyses suggested that while EA does not moderate the association among anger and quantity/frequency of drinking to predict IPA perpetration, it does moderate the association among anger and AUDIT scores (e.g., problematic alcohol use), as well as the association of heavy drinking to IPA perpetration. Conclusions: Contrary to preregistered hypotheses, results suggest that EA does not moderate the association of anger experience to heavy drinking. Rather, exploratory analyses suggest that EA may relate to IPA perpetration among individuals already prone to externalizing behaviors.