NCBI ROFL: Beer goggles explained!

By ncbi rofl | August 12, 2011 7:00 pm

It’s booze week on NCBI ROFL! All this week we’ll be featuring articles about ethanol, ethyl alcohol, and even CH3CH2OH. Enjoy!

An explanation for enhanced perceptions of attractiveness after alcohol consumption.

“Acute alcohol consumption increases ratings of attractiveness to faces. This may help to explain increased frequencies of sexual encounters during periods of alcohol intoxication. At least in part, such increased attraction may be the result of alcohol consumption decreasing ability to detect bilateral asymmetry, presumably because of the reductions in the levels of visual function. We tested the hypotheses that acute alcohol consumption decreases ability to detect asymmetry in faces and reduces preference for symmetrical faces over asymmetrical faces. Twenty images of a pair of faces and then 20 images of a single face were displayed on a computer, one at a time. Participants were instructed to state which face of each of the face pairs displayed was most attractive and then whether the single face being displayed was symmetrical or not. Data were collected near campus bars at Roehampton University. Sixty-four self-selecting students who undertook the study were classified as either sober (control) or intoxicated with alcohol. For each face pair or single face displayed, participant response was recorded and details of the alcohol consumption of participants that day were also obtained. Sober participants had a greater preference for symmetrical faces and were better at detecting whether a face was symmetrical or otherwise, supporting the hypotheses. A further, unexpected finding was that males made fewer mistakes than did females when determining whether individual faces were asymmetrical. The reduced ability of inebriated people to perceive asymmetry may be an important mechanism underlying the higher ratings of facial attractiveness they give for members of the opposite sex and hence their increased frequency of mate choice.”

Photo: flickr/Don Nunn

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: ethanol, NCBI ROFL, penis friday
  • JWS

    Looks like my mother-in-law!

  • Pan Wanqing

    Hey that’s sexual discrimination! > <

  • June D. Fowler

    Historically, the biology would make sense for women to be less visually oriented considering they were the guardians of the family. Therefore, smell and hearing would be more important to them so they can detect a threat that is not readily visible. Meanwhile, men, historically being the hunters, needed strong vision in order to be able to spear or shoot whatever they were hunting. Of course, you could have been just being sarcastic.

    • Pan Wanqing

      Hehe sorry June Fowler, my previous comment was intended to reply Margaret.

  • http://truthandparadox.wordpress Ludmilla

    I’m female, and generally consider males with facial asymmetry to be more attractive and interesting than their even-faced counterparts. fwiw, I’m not a drinker.

    Although I haven’t extensively studied others’ behavior, I also tend to second what June Fowler says above about hearing and smell. The way a man (or any person) sounds, and smells, are to me much more important indicators of what category I place them and, interestingly, how much I can trust them, than their facial appearance.

    With men, I also notice how they move and carry themselves, and how they interact with others.

    With women, I notice how they respond to others, and especially how they react to others’ responses to others.

    But then, I tend not to select a mate based on drinking status, mine or theirs, so maybe you don’t care about my people-choosing preferences.


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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