Did you ever give a second look to a man or woman at a bar and then wonder afterward what turned you on? The phenomenon of “beer goggles”, as it is commonly known, has affected even the most discriminating among us. It has been used to justify even the most awkward moments, providing a good excuse when caught oohhhhing and aahhhing with a less attractive man or woman in your favorite tavern, bar, or social setting.
But researchers at the University of Bristol say that beer goggles are not mere items of folklore and they have the evidence to back it up. The University’s Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group devised a study to find out whether or not men and women really do look better with each passing shot and what they discovered backed up what many already knew but didn’t want to admit: Beauty truly is enhanced with each sip and with enough alcohol in the bloodstream, even the face that only a mother can love suddenly gains a second admirer.
The study divided subjects into two groups. One group was presented with an alcoholic drink to consume and the other was presented with a non- alcoholic placebo. The participants were then asked to rate the attractiveness of different people and even some nature scenes using nothing but still images. What the research showed is that, sure enough, those who consumed alcohol were far more likely to rate both scenes as more beautiful and individuals as more attractive than their tee-totaling counterparts.
In other words, a few drinks can quickly make a dog look like a fox, and this can, on the negative side, lead to unwanted and even dangerous behavior.
Olivia Maynard, the individual who led the research study, told the Bristol Post: “It’s a bit of fun, but there is a serious message. If alcohol does change perceptions of attractiveness then that could be a factor in the kind of risky behavior you see when people are drunk, such as unprotected sex.”
Other studies have reached the same conclusions. A team of scientists from the US and France conducted a similar study and found that not only does alcohol make other people look more attractive, but it also makes the drinker believe that he/she is more attractive- a double whammy that magnifies the effects of drinking and can lead to all sorts of mismatched, beauty and the beast- style hookups
One factor that these studies did not consider is that alcohol is known to lower one’s inhibitions. Thus, rather than say that alcohol makes people look better, could it not be true that we are simply more likely to pursue a man or woman when drinking because our guard is lowered and we don’t care what anyone says? This would be a difficult variable to test, but it could be done.
The team of researchers at Bristol plan to take their test one step further by extending it to an actual pub environment with a series of tests spanning several nights. Seeing images of people and places and thinking they look better is one thing. Seeing if the results play out with actual, live people is another.
If additional research further proves the null hypothesis that alcohol makes people more seem more attractive, then the social phenomenon of beer goggles could be forever changed. Our favorite excuse for a regrettable tango could actually be backed by scientific proof, providing further evidence that beauty is, indeed, in the eyes of the beer holder.