Study Finds Moderate Alcohol Consumption Makes the Drinker Appear More Attractive

Posted on March 12, 2015

A new study has found moderate alcohol consumption makes the drinker appear more attractive than when they are sober. However, the attractiveness boost fades when people drink more than a moderate amount. The study considered a moderate amount of alcohol to be about one glass of wine or 250ml of alcohol.

Professor Marcus Munafo and his colleagues at the University of Bristol's School of Experimental Psychology conducted the study. Volunteers in the study were presented with photographs of people at different stages of sobriety. The photographs were taken of a different group of volunteers. The researchers say each volunteer was "photographed three times: (a) when sober, (b) after the consumption of 0.4 g/kg of alcohol and (c) after the consumption of a further 0.4 g/kg of alcohol (i.e. a total dose of 0.8 g/kg of alcohol), while the room temperature was held constant."

The photos showed people when completely sober and after they had consumed 250ml of wine or 500ml of wine. The volunteers viewing these photos were a group of 40 heterosexual social alcohol consumers consisting of 20 women and 20 men. They were asked to rate which of the two photos of each person were the most attractive.

The study found the volunteers found the photos of people who had consumed 250ml of alcohol were more attractive than sober people. This was not the case with the photos where people had consumed 500ml.

The Bristol researchers believe the attractiveness boost is caused by changes in a person's appearance after they have consumed a glass of wine. They suggest that "vasodilation associated with alcohol consumption could lead to an increase in facial flushing." This can be perceived as a healthy and attractive look. They also think a positive mood boost from the alcohol can result in subtle smiles and muscle relaxation that may make the drinker appear more attractive than when they are sober.

A research paper on the study, "Increased Facial Attractiveness Following Moderate, but not High, Alcohol Consumption," can be found here in the journal, Alcohol and Alcoholism.