The moderating effect of stimulus attractiveness on the effect of alcohol consumption on attractiveness ratings

Alcohol Alcohol. 2014 Sep-Oct;49(5):515-9. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agu026. Epub 2014 May 23.


Aims: To explore the enhancing effect of alcohol consumption on attractiveness ratings, in that few studies on the Beer Goggles effect control the stimuli attractiveness level and researchers have seldom considered extending the effect to stimuli other than faces.

Methods: Male and female participants (n = 103) were randomly assigned to alcohol consumption or placebo groups. Both groups were asked to assess the attractiveness of two types of pictures (faces and landscapes) with three levels of attractiveness for each stimulus category (high, moderate and low).

Results: We found significant interactions between beverage type and attractiveness level. Attractiveness ratings for moderate- and low-attractiveness faces were significantly higher in the alcohol compared with placebo condition, while there was no significant difference for high-attractiveness stimuli between these two conditions. As for landscapes, only low-attractiveness stimuli were rated significantly higher in the alcohol condition.

Conclusion: Whether or not alcohol consumption leads to an increase in attractiveness ratings depends on the initial attractiveness of the stimulus materials. Alcohol consumption tends to affect ratings for stimuli with relatively low attractiveness. Furthermore, this effect is not limited to faces; it extends to other types of stimuli like landscapes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Beauty*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Social Perception*
  • Young Adult