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Beer Goggles: Fact or Fiction

4th May 2012

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The ‘beer goggle affect’ is used to describe a state which people get into when they have had a few too many drinks, when they find people attractive who they ordinarily wouldn’t. Lewis Halsey, senior Lecturer at Roehampton University has done a study which looks at the science behind the myth.

Beer“Many animal species have been found to find symmetry attractive when choosing a mate… People find other people more attractive when those people have more symmetrical bodies and faces.” Halsey tells us.

We’ve heard it all before, ‘I didn’t know what I was doing’, ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’, but this study seems to prove that there is something to the theory. The alcohol effects our perception of symmetry and, in turn, our perception of attractiveness.

 “If alcohol reduces the ability to perceive asymmetry then it means that someone who has consumed alcohol will see people as more symmetrical, and thus appear to be a more attractive mate.” Halsey explains.

The tests were carried out on a group of people who had been given alcohol and others who had not. A number of tests were carried out on the subjects, the key one’s being: is there a difference in symmetrical preference between the sober group and the group who had consumed the alcohol? Also is there a difference in the ability to perceive asymmetry between the two groups?

The tests showed that those who had consumed the alcohol were less able to detect the symmetry in the subject’s faces.

Halsey carried out three stages of testing, the first in 2006, “getting drunk people and not drunk people to see if they noticed asymmetry in geometric shapes.”

The second was undertaken in the field and they used people’s faces rather than shapes, this was done in the bars surrounding Roehampton University with psychologist colleague Dr Joerg Huber. The most recent test was done in a lab, so each element of the test could be controlled. Halsey said that he would be interested in looking further into the subject.

“There could be something interesting in looking to see if relationships differ between those that were forged under alcohol and those that were not. How long do they last, how satisfying are they, how faithful are the partners?” Halsey told us.

So next time you make a mistake, atleast you'll know you've got science on your side.

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