Science has finally confirmed what conventional wisdom and country songs have been telling us for a long time: beer goggles are real.
Researchers at the University Hospital in Basel in Switzerland conducted tests with 60 men and women, giving them each a half litre of the finest Swiss ale (either alcoholic or non alcoholic) and then having them complete tasks involving empathy, sexual arousal and facial recognition, the BBC reported. (Side note: this sounds like an amazing hospital!)
Sure enough, they discovered that those who had downed the boozy beer found it easier to view explicit sexual images and became more social and talkative. They also found that the effects were greater for women and those with initially high levels of inhibition. (The change between sexes might be due to the relative size and resulting blood alcohol level of the subjects, or that some men had a higher tolerance to the beer, or simple socio-cultural factors.)
The research didn’t find any correlation between beer consumption and actual arousal, however.
“We found that drinking a glass of beer helps people see happy faces faster, and enhances concern for positive emotional situations,” says Professor Matthial Liechti, lead researcher from Basel University Hospital. “Alcohol also facilitates the viewing of sexual image, consistent with disinhibition, but it does not actually enhance sexual arousal… These effects of alcohol on social cognition likely enhance sociability.”
So, the old bit of barroom wisdom is partially true, at least. You may, like Billy in the old country song, find that after a couple of beers, anyone smiling looks like they want to be your new bff. Chances are, if they’ve had a pint and you’re also smiling, they actually do.