April 27, 2009

The Science Behind Beer Goggling

Time Magazine has an interesting story called Does Beer (Goggling) Affect Whom We Find Attractive?

The new study, set to be published in June in the 100th issue of the British Journal of Psychology, examined how alcohol plays into all these murky attractions to youth. The vast majority of men don't act on their potentially inappropriate, or criminal, impulses, but can those who do blame the booze?

The study's authors, Egan and Cordan, asked their 120 drinking and 120 sober participants to rate the attractiveness of 15-year-old girls versus 19-year-old girls shown in photographs. The study participants were evenly divided between men and women. For ethical and legal reasons, the photos were actually altered images of 17-year-old students from McMaster University in Ontario; they had given permission for their likenesses to be used. Researchers digitally manipulated the pictures to make the students' craniofacial features look like those of typical 15-year-olds or those of 19-year-olds. The doctored pictures were then shown in random order to participants recruited in bars, airport lounges, cafes and other natural settings.

On average, the participants found the "15-year-olds" slightly more attractive than the "19-year-olds," which reconfirms our inclination toward neoteny. Both men and women found the more youthful images of girls to be a bit more attractive than the older ones.

Surprisingly, drinking had little impact on the results.

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