Here’s some news you can use this Valentine’s Day weekend: Beer goggles are stunningly real, and you should know how to avoid them.
Most alcohol research takes place in university labs, where participants get sloshed, and scientists then have them essentially play a game of Hot or Not, asking drinkers which faces they find attractive. This self-reported data yields precisely the inconsistent findings you would expect from questioning drunk people.
Now researchers from UK’s Edge Hill University say they’ve found a better way. They went right to the source: bars (well, pubs) filled with intoxicated people.
The researchers found that while sober people are distracted by attractive faces, drunk people are distracted by, well, any face. To learn this, the researchers had drinkers complete a task while showing them attractive and unattractive faces and tracking their attention. (The “stimuli” were photographs of forward-facing faces from a research database.) Key finding: Even very mildly intoxicated drinkers give their attentions to fugly faces. “This suggests that it doesn’t take much for people to put on their beer goggles,” says coauthor Derek Helm, a psychologist at Edge Hill University.
Now we know: It’s best to decide whether someone’s cute before the alcohol starts flowing. Have fun out there this weekend.