Beer Goggles or Liquid Courage? Alcohol, Attractiveness Perceptions, and Partner Selection Among Men
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 84(4), 598–604 (2023).
Molly A. Bowdring , Ph.D.,a,* & Michael A. Sayette , Ph.D.b
August 30, 2023
Perception of physical attractiveness (PPA) is a fundamental aspect of human relationships and may help explain alcohol’s rewarding and harmful effects. Yet PPA is rarely studied in relation to alcohol, and existing approaches often rely on simple attractiveness ratings. The present study added an element of realism to the attractiveness assessment by asking participants to select four images of people they were led to believe might be paired with them in a subsequent study.
Dyads of platonic, same-sex male friends (n = 36; ages 21–27; predominantly White, n = 20) attended two laboratory sessions wherein they consumed alcohol and a no-alcohol control beverage (counterbalanced). Following beverage onset, participants rated PPA of targets using a Likert scale. They also selected four individuals from the PPA rating set to potentially interact with in a future study.
Alcohol did not affect traditional PPA ratings but did significantly enhance the likelihood that participants would choose to interact with the most attractive targets, χ2(1, N = 36) = 10.70, p < .01.
Although alcohol did not affect traditional PPA ratings, alcohol did increase the likelihood of choosing to interact with more attractive others. Future alcohol–PPA studies should include more realistic contexts and provide assessment of actual approach behaviors toward attractive targets, to further clarify the role of PPA in alcohol’s hazardous and socially rewarding effects.
aStanford Prevention Research Center, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
bDepartment of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Received: October 17, 2022
Accepted: January 12, 2023
Published Online: August 29, 2023