Ph.D., University of Georgia, 2003
Alcohol-related violence; Aggression toward sexual and gender minorities; campus sexual violence
My NIAAA funded research program aims to reduce interpersonal violence by:
(1) identifying risk and protective factors for perpetrating aggressive behavior and(2) informing intervention programming. This work uses different methodologies (e.g., laboratory, survey) to study different forms of aggression (e.g., physical, sexual) toward various targets (e.g., sexual minorities, women) and under different conditions (e.g., alcohol intoxication, in group settings).
Alcohol and Aggression
While it is well-accepted that alcohol facilitates aggression, not every person becomes aggressive after drinking alcohol. To elucidate this complex relation, my research program has advanced a theoretical framework which integrates the I3 Model and Alcohol Myopia Theory (see Parrott & Eckhardt, 2018) to understand the etiology of alcohol-facilitated intimate partner violence (Eckhardt et al., 2021; Subramani, Parrott, & Eckhardt, 2017) and alcohol-facilitated sexual violence (Parrott et al., in press). This work prioritizes a dyadic approach to modelling the dynamic interaction between both partners’ characteristics (for a review, see Eckhardt et al., 2020), which includes studies on sexual IPV (Grom et al., 2021) and physical IPV (e.g., Halmos et al., 2021; Leone et al., 2016; Parrott et al., 2017). The end goals of this work are to develop a risk profile that delimits for whom, and under what circumstances, alcohol is most likely to facilitate aggression, and to inform intervention programming to reduce intoxicated aggression.
Bystander Intervention for Sexual Violence
Campus sexual violence has long been a significant public health concern. One promising prevention approach is bystander intervention programs; however, the evidence-base to support these programs is largely based upon outcome variables that are precursors to bystander behavior (e.g., perceived social norms, confidence to intervene, willingness to intervene) rather than actual bystander behavior. Moreover, alcohol use or alcohol-related contexts are strongly associated with the occurrence of sexual violence; however, bystander programs do not include integrated, alcohol-specific content that (1) educates bystanders about how proximal alcohol use inhibits their ability to intervene, and (2) teaches strategies to help compensate for these effects.
In response to this weakness in the literature, we advanced a theoretical model for understanding how alcohol use influences bystander decision making to intervene in situations at risk for sexual violence (Leone, Haikalis, Parrott, & DiLillo, 2018v) and developed valid laboratory-based analogues of bystander intervention behavior for sexual violence to study these effects (e.g., Parrott et al., 2020; Leone & Parrott, 2019). Over the past three years, my laboratory has added virtual reality technology to study these effects in a more ecologically valid environment.
In May 2019, NIAAA funded a five-year project that I am conducting in collaboration with Co-PI Dr. Laura Salazar. The premise of the project is that integrating alcohol-specific content within the context of bystander intervention education into Dr. Salazar’s evidence-based RealConsent intervention intervention will enhance prosocial bystander behavior among intoxicated bystanders. The aim of this project is to evaluate the efficacy of this adapted intervention, which we call RealConsent2.0.
Aggression Toward Sexual Minorities
A fundamental goal of my research program is to better understand the variables that influence the relation between alcohol and aggression toward sexual and gender minorities. My early NIAAA-funded research focused on cisgender, heterosexual men and established a range of different risk factors (e.g., sexual prejudice, endorsement of traditional gender norms, anger in response to homosexuality, religious fundamentalism, HIV/AIDS stigma) as critical determinants of aggression based on sexual orientation. This research produced the first data that directly explains how alcohol intoxication facilitates aggression toward sexual minorities (Leone & Parrott, 2015; Parrott & Lisco, 2015).
In May 2018, NIAAA funded a five-year project to study the proximal effects of alcohol on the perpetration of intimate partner violence within same-sex couples (SS-IPV). The scientific premise of the project is to prioritize three perspectives highlighted by the Institute of Medicine (2011) report – minority stress, social-ecology, and intersectionality – while addressing key methodological weaknesses in the current literature. The project aims to determine (1) the temporal effect of sexual minority stress on SS-IPV perpetration, (2) whether proximal alcohol use alters the threshold at which sexual minority stress contributes to SS-IPV perpetration, (3) the temporal sequence by which sexual minority stress, proximal alcohol use, and other factors facilitate SS-IPV, and (4) how these interactive and mediational effects are altered by the patterning of individual- and couple-level risk and resilience factors for SS-IPV. The intended outcome is for results derived from this project to provide the desperately needed evidence base to develop effective, culturally-informed IPV treatment and prevention efforts for same-sex couples.
I supervise a psychotherapy practicum team within the GSU Psychology Clinic. As a clinical supervisor, I emphasize a cognitive-behavioral and motivational approach to therapy. I adhere to an evidence-based practice model and seek to incorporate the best available research evidence, clinical expertise, and patient characteristics and preferences in working with clients.