Why might 'beer goggles' make faces seem more attractive?
THAT’S THE WHY: IT’S THE stuff of pub lore: the “beer goggles” that can make people look more attractive when alcohol is influencing the eye of the beholder. You may be interested to know that science has taken the trouble to look at whether and why this could really happen.A study at Bond University in Australia recruited “80 heterosexual university student social drinkers” in campus pubs and parties to take a survey where they rated the attractiveness of 15 unfamiliar faces of the opposite gender in black and white photographs.
Participants also did a breath test to determine their blood alcohol concentration.
And what did they find? “Consistent with predictions, the present results indicated that perceived attractiveness of unfamiliar opposite sex faces was positively associated with alcohol intoxication, confirming the ‘beer goggles phenomenon’,” wrote the authors in The Journal of Social Psychology last year.
There are likely many reasons why beer goggles may have an effect, but a separate study in 2010 looked at whether it may involve the perception of facial symmetry, which is generally considered to be an attractive feature.
This study involved 64 students – in London this time – who were either intoxicated with alcohol or sober. They rated images of faces for attractiveness and symmetry, and again the drink seemed to make a difference.
“Sober participants had a greater preference for symmetrical faces and were better at detecting whether a face was symmetrical or otherwise,” wrote the authors in the journal Alcohol.
“A further, unexpected finding was that males made fewer mistakes than did females when determining whether individual faces were asymmetrical.”