If you’re heading out to have a few drinks tonight, you might be interested to know that a new study has found that the popular joke about “having beer goggles,” which is when we find people more attractive when we’re drunk, may actually be true.
Carried out by psychologists from Edge Hill University, the new study recruited 129 heterosexual university students and asked them to carry out a computer-based test.
Unlike previous studies on the effects of alcohol, the test was conducted in the bars and pubs around the university campus rather than a lab setting, and participants were not asked to self-report on who they found attractive, which can produce inconsistent results, but were instead asked to complete a test on a computer while either drunk or sober.
This test involved indicating whether the letter “T” on the screen was the correct way round, or upside down, while ignoring photos of attractive and unattractive faces which popped up on the screen at the same time.
The findings, published this week in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, showed that the sober participants were more distracted by attractive faces, while the drunk participants were equally distracted by both the attractive and unattractive faces.
“Previous research into the beer goggles phenomena yielded inconsistent findings and has been largely limited to asking people directly about how attractive they find others” said Dr Rebecca Monk, the lead author of the study. “By using an indirect measure of attention, our research was able to overcome some of these limitations.”
“We know that attractive faces can pull attention away from the task at hand, but our research suggests that alcohol has the capacity to lessen this effect; to level the playing field.”
Professor Derek Heim also commented on the findings, adding that, “Most people have heard of the ‘beer goggles’ effect, and our research adds to the body of evidence showing that there is some truth to this anecdotal wisdom.”
“It’s remarkable that in our study participants were only mildly intoxicated, suggesting that it doesn’t take much alcohol at all for people to ‘put on their beer goggles’.”