Turns Out 'Beer Goggles' Work Both Ways

Turns Out 'Beer Goggles' Work Both Ways
Portrait of a young woman drinking a pint glass of beer.
Portrait of a young woman drinking a pint glass of beer.

No doubt you've heard that even unattractive people can start to look smokin' hot after you've downed a drink or three.

Science has shown that the beer goggle phenomenon is real--and now scientists in England have shown that those goggles work both ways.

"In addition to perceiving others as more attractive, a mildly intoxicated alcohol consumer may also be perceived as more attractive by others," the scientists wrote in the conclusion to their new study, which was published online Feb. 25, 2015 in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.

But if a little alcohol makes you look hot, more than that can backfire. The study showed that people who have a lot to drink don't get the boost in attractiveness.

For the study, researchers at Bristol University took three headshots each of heterosexual students ranging in age from 18 to 30 years: one showing the student sober, another showing the student after consuming one drink, and a third after the student had had more to drink.

Then a group of 40 heterosexual students were asked to rate the attractiveness of the students in the photos. The photos were presented in pairs: first, the student sober and after one drink and then the student sober and after consuming more than one drink.

What happened? The students were rated more attractive when they had consumed one drink than when they were sober or more intoxicated.

The researchers aren't sure exactly why students were judged more attractive after having one drink, but they offered some hypotheses. One is that a little alcohol makes people smile subtly and look more relaxed. Another is that facial flushing associated with alcohol makes people more attractive.

"The people who had consumed a small amount of alcohol had a slightly rosier complexion," study co-author Marcus Munafò, a professor of biological psychology at the university, told Live Science. "Rosiness is attractive because it characterizes good physical health characteristics."

Cheers to that!

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