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Scientists Claim ‘Beer Goggles’ Aren't Actually a Thing

Science has delivered unto us a most harsh truth. Beer goggles—the notion that people of the opposite sex seem more attractive the more one drinks—might not actually exist. Seriously

by Alex Swerdloff
Feb 5 2016, 4:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Dalboz17

After a spirited night spent embracing a flaxen bottle of Drambuie, followed by some impromptu road beers sloppily downed while skitching across town, there are few things that seem to make more sense than the concept of "beer goggles." Dare we say, those gloriously fleeting moments in which the world is your oyster—and all its inhabitants veritable sirens fawning over your rogue charm—is what drinking is all about.

Alas, science has delivered unto us a most harsh truth. Beer goggles—the notion that people of the opposite sex seem more attractive the more one drinks—might not actually exist. Seriously.

Experimental British psychologist Olivia Maynard and her colleagues at the University of Bristol put it to the test by going into three local pubs and asking 311 patrons to rate how attractive people were in photos presented on an Android tablet. The scientists then plotted the attractiveness rankings on one axis and blood alcohol content on another and, in the end, they have this to say: "We found no evidence for a relationship between alcohol consumption and perception of attractiveness in our large-scale naturalistic study."

The results of the study were published last August in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, but are now garnering attention as people digest the shocking results.

What's more—are you ready for this?—there's no such time as "closing time effect." That's right: The notion that people get more attractive as last call approaches is also a myth, according to the study.

Previous studies have found a beer goggles effect, but the new study is considered to be more accurate because it was conducted in a pub—not a lab. The large sample size of the study is also unprecedented.

So what are these phenomena that we laypeople observe in bars and pubs worldwide? Why is it that as we get drunker and as the hour gets later, we seem much more willing to hook up?

The study says, whatever it is, it's not a subjective sense of attractiveness. In the end, maybe we just have to chalk it all up to desperation.