Aims: Alcohol consumption is known to be associated with risky sexual behaviours, but this relationship may be complex and bidirectional. We explored whether alcohol consumption leads to the consumer being rated as more attractive than sober individuals.
Methods: Heterosexual social alcohol consumers completed an attractiveness-rating task, in which they were presented with pairs of photographs depicting the same individual, photographed while sober and after having consumed alcohol (either 0.4 or 0.8 g/kg), and required to decide which image was more attractive.
Results: Photographs of individuals who had consumed a low dose of alcohol (equivalent to 250 ml of wine at 14% alcohol by volume for a 70 kg individual) were rated as more attractive than photographs of sober individuals. This was not observed for photographs of individuals who had consumed a high dose of alcohol.
Conclusion: In addition to perceiving others as more attractive, a mildly intoxicated alcohol consumer may also be perceived as more attractive by others. This in turn may play a role in the relationship between alcohol consumption and risky sexual behaviour.
© The Author 2015. Medical Council on Alcohol and Oxford University Press.