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Alcohol Consumption Does Not Necessarily Lead to Misperceptions of Attractiveness

Contrary to popular belief, consuming alcohol does not necessarily lead to the phenomenon of “beer goggles” – where people perceive others as more attractive after a few drinks. Instead, new research suggests that alcohol may give individuals the courage to approach those who they already find attractive. This challenges previous studies that supported the concept of “beer goggles” and showed a small, inconsistent effect.

Examining the Social Setting

Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Pittsburgh conducted a study to investigate the concept of “beer goggles” in a social setting. They recruited 18 pairs of heterosexual male friends for their experiment. First, the men rated the attractiveness of women they didn’t know based on photos and videos. They then chose four women they would most like to meet.

Alcohol vs. Non-Alcoholic Drink

The experiment was conducted twice. In the first session, the men were given non-alcoholic cranberry juice. After half an hour, they were asked to rate the women’s attractiveness and who they would most like to meet. In the second session, the men were given a cocktail of cranberry juice and vodka, raising their blood alcohol concentration. Again, they rated the women’s attractiveness and preferences for meeting them.

No Effect on Attractiveness Ratings

The researchers discovered that alcohol consumption did not influence how the men rated the women’s attractiveness. However, after consuming just cranberry juice, some of the men expressed a desire to meet women they didn’t necessarily find the most attractive. But after consuming the cocktail, they were almost twice as likely to express a preference for meeting women they considered the most attractive.

The Impact of Alcohol

The researchers suggest that alcohol could potentially free individuals from their fear of rejection and reduce the intimidation experienced when interacting with attractive people. However, the study had limitations, as it mainly consisted of white participants. The researchers plan to repeat the experiment with a more diverse group and also investigate the impact of alcohol on the attractiveness ratings of heterosexual women and individuals with non-heterosexual orientations.

Future Research

Future studies will explore whether the dose size of alcohol or the timing of intoxication has an effect on perceived attractiveness. The researchers aim to bring more realism to the experiments by creating scenarios where participants believe they could potentially interact with the people they are assessing.

“By making participants believe that the pictures they were viewing were of people they could choose to interact with in the future, the research team added a nice element of realism, which has been missing from previous research in this area.” – Rebecca Monk, Edge Hill University

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