Anyone looking for a mate in a bar, take note: Beer goggles really do make people appear more attractive, British researchers say.

Scientists at the University of Bristol found that study subjects who consumed alcohol considered people to be about 10 per cent more attractive than did people who did not consume alcohol.

The researchers asked 84 subjects to drink a lime-favoured beverage that either contained alcohol or did not.

The amount of alcohol equalled a large glass of wine or one-and-a-half pints of beer.

About 15 minutes after consuming their drinks, the subjects looked at pictures of men and women on a computer screen and rated how attractive they found each person.

Both the male and female subjects not only found members of the opposite sex more attractive, they also found members of the same gender more attractive, too.

The researchers also found that men deemed women to be more attractive for up to 24 hours after they consumed alcohol.

"A region of the brain called the striatum is involved in the processing of faces and in particular the attractiveness of faces," lead study author, Dr. Marcus Munafo, told "Alcohol consumption stimulates activity in this brain region, so this might explain how alcohol effects how we process faces generally and attractiveness in particular. Though social factors might modify this effect in real life."

The findings are published in the online edition of Alcohol and Alcoholism.

Munafo said the study is part of ongoing research into the way in which alcohol consumption affects how people process emotions as they are conveyed through facial expressions.

In turn, the way in which people process the facial expressions of others can influence their behaviour, Munafo said.


Effects of acute alcohol consumption on ratings of attractiveness of facial stimuli: Evidence of long-term encoding

Lycia L. C. Parker, Ian S. Penton-Voak, Angela S. Attwood and Marcus R. Munaf�

Aim: A strongly held popular belief is that alcohol increases the perceived attractiveness of members of the opposite sex. Despite this, there are no experimental data that investigate this possibility. We therefore explored the relationship between acute alcohol consumption and ratings of attractiveness of facial stimuli. Methods: We investigated male and female participants (n = 84), using male and female facial stimuli, in order to investigate possible sex differences, and whether any effects of alcohol are selective for opposite-sex facial stimuli. We tested participants immediately following consumption of alcohol or placebo and one day later, in order to investigate whether any effects of alcohol persist beyond acute effects. Results: Attractiveness ratings were higher in the alcohol compared to the placebo group (F[1, 80] = 4.35, P = 0.040), but there was no evidence that this differed between males and females or was selective for opposite-sex faces. We did not observe marked effects of alcohol on self-reported measures of mood, suggesting that the effects on ratings of attractiveness were not due simply to global hedonic effects or reporting biases. Conclusions: Alcohol consumption increases ratings of attractiveness of facial stimuli, and this effect is not selective for opposite-sex faces. In addition, the effects of alcohol consumption on ratings of attractiveness persist for up to 24 h after consumption, but only in male participants when rating female (i.e. opposite-sex) faces.