You and your friends might joke about a man or a woman at the bar “looking better” after a couple of drinks but did you know that there is some science behind these claims?
A new study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism decided to take a look at how alcohol impacts perception. Forty students at the University of Bristol took part in the study to find out how appearances seemingly change after a couple of drinks. Researchers photographed their faces three times — when they were sober, after drinking the equivalent of one glass of wine, and after drinking a second alcoholic drink.
They were able to conclude that the photos taken after one drink were more attractive to people than sober photos. However, the sober photos were more appealing than the highest alcohol photos.
“It suggests that, if it’s true, people are rated as more attractive once they’ve consumed a small amount of alcohol,” Marcus Munafo, senior author of the study, told LiveScience. “But if they go on to consume more alcohol, they’re no longer rated as more attractive.”
Munafo stated that he and his team of researchers are unsure of why more alcohol translated into less attraction. However, they have a hunch that it may have to do with greater pupil dilation and more muscle relaxation, which were present in the second batch of photos. The researchers also think that rosier cheeks may have played a role in the outcome.
“The people who had consumed a small amount of alcohol had a slightly rosier complexion [than they did in their sober and high-dose photos],” Munafo continued. “Rosiness is attractive because it characterizes good physical health characteristics. That obviously doesn’t mean that alcohol is healthy. What it means is that alcohol is sort of hijacking that mechanism, or promoting the aspects of facial features that we regard as attractive for other reasons.”
We joke about the “necessity” of alcohol in social situations, whether it be for a date or an uncomfortable dinner with the in-laws. While it may certainly take the edge off, there’s no guarantee that the outcome will be positive. In fact, there is a greater chance that a lack of inhibition may lead to actions that are regretted later.
Does this mean you shouldn’t drink while you’re on a blind date or out with your friends? Of course not, but responsibility should be the main priority when it comes to drinking alcohol in any amount.
- Geggel, Laura. “You Look Hotter After 1 Drink, But Not 2.” March 3, 2015. LiveScience.