August 17, 2010
The Urban Dictionary defines beer goggles as the “phenomenon in which one’s consumption of alcohol makes physically unattractive persons appear beautiful.” This doesn’t happen for everyone, as the Mythbusters found when they tested themselves on the question of whether being tipsy or drunk led them to find other people more attractive, but there was enough evidence for the TV show to declare the concept “plausible.”
A recent study in the journal Alcohol has found a reason why some of us might find people we normally would consider ugly to be handsome: we stop noticing facial symmetry.
Symmetry probably isn’t a feature that you’d list as a must-have when dreaming up your ideal man or woman, but we tend to find more symmetrical faces to be the more attractive ones, possibly because symmetry is an indicator of good genes and good health.
In the new study, scientists went to bars near their university in England and asked students to participate in a small experiment. The students were given a breathalyzer test to determine whether or not they were drunk and then asked to determine which photo in a pair, repeated for 20 pairs, was the more attractive and which was the more symmetrical.
Students who were sober found symmetrical faces more attractive and were able to determine more readily which were the more symmetrical faces. But the drunk students lost both their preference for symmetry and their ability to detect it. Women more readily lost this ability than did men.
The difference probably has something to do with the tendency for men to be more visually oriented and more stimulated by what they see, [Lewis Halsey of Roehampton University told Discovery News]. “Men tend to ogle more than women do,” Halsey ventured.
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