, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 75–80 | Cite as

Effect of ethanol on aggression and timidity in mice

  • M. Kršiak
Animal Studies


The effects of ethanol (0.4, 0.8, 1.6, and 2.4 g/kg p.o.) on behavior of aggressive, timid, and sociable male mice treated with the drug on paired interactions with non-aggressive males given water were investigated. Under control interactions, aggressive mice attacked their partners, timid mice showed defensive-escape activities though their partners were completely non-aggressive, and sociable mice intensively investigated their partners. A low dose of ethanol (0.4 g/kg) increased while higher doses (0.8 to 2.4 g/kg) reduced aggressive activities in aggressive mice. Ethanol (0.8 g/kg) also evoked aggressive behavior in non-aggressive timid mice but no dose of ethanol stimulated aggression in non-aggressive sociable mice. Ethanol altered timid defensive-escape activities only in the highest dose of 2.4 g/kg: this dose increased defences and escapes in aggressive males while it reduced defensive upright postures in timid mice. However, 2.4 g/kg of ethanol reduced also another upright movement (exploratory rearing) in timid mice. Sociable activities were not increased by any dose of ethanol tested. By contrast, 0.4 g/kg of ethanol reduced sniffing and following partners in sociable mice. Thus, ethanol exhibited relatively strong aggression-stimulating effects in aversively disposed subjects while the drug was not able to supress timid defensive escape behavior and to stimulate active non-aggressive contacts between strange male mice.

Key words

Ethanol Aggression Timidity Fear Sociability 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Borgesová, M., Kadlecová, O., Kršiak, M.: Behaviour of untreated mice towards alcohol- or chlordiazepoxide-treated partners. Activ. nerv. sup. (Praha) 13, 206–207 (1971)Google Scholar
  2. Cairns, R. B., Scholz, S. D.: Fighting in mice: dyadic escalation and what is learned. J. comp. physiol. Psychol. 85, 540–550 (1973)Google Scholar
  3. Cappell, H., Herman, C. P.: Alcohol and tension reduction. Quart. J. Stud. Alcohol 33, 33–64 (1972)Google Scholar
  4. Cappell, H., Latané, B.: Effects of alcohol and caffeine on the social and emotional behaviour of the rat. Quart. J. Stud. Alcohol 30, 345–356 (1969)Google Scholar
  5. Chamove, A. S., Harlow, H. F.: Exaggeration of self-aggression following alcohol ingestion in rhesus monkey. J. abnorm. Psychol. 75, 207–209 (1970)Google Scholar
  6. Chance, M. R. A., Mackntosh, J. H., Dixon, A. K.: The effects of ethyl alcohol on social encounters between mice. J. Alcoholism (Lond.) 8, 90–93 (1973)Google Scholar
  7. Cressman, R. J., Cadell, T. E.: Drinking and the social behaviour of rhesus monkey. Quart. J. Stud. Alcohol 32, 764–774 (1971)Google Scholar
  8. Crowley, T. J., Stynes, A. J., Hydinger, M., Kaufman, I. C.: Ethanol, methamphetamine, pentobarbital, morphine and monkey social behaviour. Arch. gen. Psychiat. 31, 829–838 (1974)Google Scholar
  9. Cutler, M. G., Mackintosh, J. H., Chance, M. R. A.: Effects of the environment on the behavioural response of mice to nonataxic doses of ethyl alcohol. Neuropharmacology 14, 841–846 (1975)Google Scholar
  10. Grant, E. C., Mackintosh, J. H.: A comparison of the social postures of some common laboratory rodents. Behavior 21, 246–259 (1963)Google Scholar
  11. Kamback, M. C.: The hippocampus and motivation: A re-examination. J. gen. Psychol. 89, 313–324 (1973)Google Scholar
  12. Kršiak, M.: Behavioural changes and aggressivity evoked by drugs in mice. Res. Comm. chem. Path. Pharmacol. 7, 237–257 (1974)Google Scholar
  13. Kršiak, M.: Timid singly-housed mice: their value in prediction of psychotropic activity of drugs. Brit. J. Pharmacol. 35, 141–150 (1975)Google Scholar
  14. Kršiak, M., Borgesová, M.: Drugs and spontaneous behaviour: why are detailed studies still so rare? Activ. nerv. sup. (Praha) 14, 285–293 (1972)Google Scholar
  15. Kršiak, M., Borgesová, M.: Effect of alcohol on behaviour of pairs of rats. Psychopharmacologia (Berl.) 32, 201–209 (1973)Google Scholar
  16. Kršiak, M., Steinberg, H.: Psychopharmacological aspects of aggression: a review of the literature and some new experiments. J. Psychosomat. Res. 13, 243–252 (1969)Google Scholar
  17. Lorenz, K.: On aggression. London: Methuen 1966Google Scholar
  18. McDonald, A. L., Heimstra, N. W.: Social influence on the response to drugs. V. Modification of behaviour of non-drugged rats by drugged. Psychopharmacologia (Berl.) 8, 174–180 (1965)Google Scholar
  19. Miczek, K. A.: Intraspecies aggression in rats: Effects of d-amphetamine and chlordiazepoxide. Psychopharmacologia (Berl.) 39, 275–301 (1974)Google Scholar
  20. Miczek, K. A., Barry, H., III: Pharmacology of sex and aggression. In: Behavioral pharmacology, S. D. Glick and J. Goldfarb, eds. St. Louis: Mosby (in press, 1976)Google Scholar
  21. Miczek, K. A., Barry, H., III: Effects of alcohol on attack and defensive-submissive reactions in rats. Psychopharmacologia (Berl.) (in press)Google Scholar
  22. Peeke, H. V. S., Ellman, G. E., Herz, M. J.: Dose dependent alcohol effects on the aggressive behavior of the convict cichlid (Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum). Behav. Biol. 8, 115–122 (1973)Google Scholar
  23. Poole, T. B.: Some studies on the influence of chlordiazepoxide on the social interaction of golden hamsters. Brit. J. Pharmacol. 48, 538–545 (1973)Google Scholar
  24. Siegel, S.: Nonparametric statistics. New York: McGraw-Hill 1956Google Scholar
  25. Silverman, A. P.: The social behaviour of laboratory rats and the action of chlorpromazine and other drugs. Behaviour 27, 1–38 (1966a)Google Scholar
  26. Silverman, A. P.: Barbiturates, lysergic acid diethylamide, and the social behaviour of laboratory rats. Psychopharmacologia (Berl.) 10, 155–171 (1966b)Google Scholar
  27. Tamimie, H. S.: Response of alcohol treated cocks to day-old and one-week old chicks. Poult. Sci. 47, 1366–1367 (1968)Google Scholar
  28. Tikal, K., Benešová, O.: The effect of some psychotropic drugs on contact behavior in a group of rats. Activ. nerv. sup. (Praha) 14, 168–169 (1972)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Kršiak
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of PharmacologyCzechoslovak Academy of SciencesPraha 2Czechoslovakia

Personalised recommendations