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Study proves "beer goggles" phenomenon does exist

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(CBS News) We often joke that alcohol can make a person look more attractive. But do these rumored "beer goggles" exist?

According to a new study published on April 4 in Addiction, alcohol can make the heart grow fonder - or at least make people look more attractive.

Lewis Halsey, a senior lecturer in comparative and eco physiology at the University of Roehampton in London, and his colleagues wanted to find out if perception of face symmetry change with alcohol consumption. Previous studies have shown facial symmetry to be a factor in judging attractiveness.

"The people in our study were not drinking heavily, and the effects we have found seem to increase with the amount of alcohol consumed," Halsey told the Independent.

For the study, researchers divided 101 mostly college-aged participants into three groups. One was given alcoholic drinks, one was given non-alcoholic drinks (placebo) and the last was given diluted orange cordial (control). The level of alcohol, weight and concentration of alcohol were all measured. They were then given a computerized task, which asked them to say if a face was attractive and to see whether or not a face was symmetrical by looking at a picture for 5 seconds.

Female and male participants who had drank alcohol were both worse at detecting whether or not a face was symmetrical. Men were also found to have a lesser preference for symmetrical faces - or a lower standard for attractiveness - when under the influence of alcohol than women.

"What we have shown is that people's ability to detect symmetry is part of the explanation for the beer goggle effects," Halsey explained to the Independent.

Halsey expressed interest in further studies, including the lasting effect of beer goggles in relationships. "The consequences could be considerable. A lot of people say they met their partner when they were drunk. Are their marriages shorter or longer lasting? Does it change the nature of the relationship?" he said.

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