When people drink too much, they often find unattractive people much more attractive.This phenomenon is called “beer goggles.”
What actually happens when you have beer goggles, and what makes people’s visual perceptions change?
Amanda Ellison, a psychologist from Durham University in the U.K. has written a book, “Getting Your Head Around the Brain” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), in which she introduces readers to the brain and how its functioning is linked to behaviour.
Ellison explained to us that “beer goggles” are really rooted in our brains. Drinking alcohol doesn’t change the way we take in and process visual information, it just makes us more liberal when we drink.
Alcohol “selectively affects your decision-making, evaluation and rational skills that our frontal lobes give us whilst leaving more primitive drives like sexual desire intact,” she told Business Insider in an email.
“It is not that beer goggles don’t exist … they do. But it is the interpretation of the term that seems to be the issue. It doesn’t change our perceptions of people (the[y] don’t look different in an absolute visual sense), just the decisions that we make based on those perceptions are different,” Ellison wrote.
This is supported by a paper published in the British Journal of Psychology in May of 2009, which found that: “Alcohol consumption significantly inflated attractiveness ratings for participants viewing made-up sexually mature faces.”
Ellison says this additional attractiveness could very well be because we make poorer decisions while drunk. This same decision-making issue “explains why people think it’s a good idea to dance on plastic chairs perched on tables, or why they think that kebab on the way home was a great idea …” she wrote.
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