Remember Beer Makes People Look Better!

A friend has just sent me a link, to this advert; which I believe the NHS originally ran in 2008; reminding us of what’s essential travel wear! I haven’t seen it before but it reminded me of the old ‘Beer Goggles’ research of some years ago at Roehampton and Manchester Universities.  

Remember beer makes people look better.

I think the underlying concept is linked to humans’ preference for symmetrical faces. By nature, humans find symmetry more pleasant, but alcohol affects the part of the brain that is capable of detecting symmetry. As a result, as the blood’s alcohol content increases, the brain gets confused and starts to believe that every person around has more symmetrical, aesthetically pleasant faces.

Back in 2003 at Roehampton University researchers showed students pairs of faces, symmetrical and asymmetrical. They asked them to pick the prettiest face, then showed them individual faces, one by one, and asked them to judge if the face was symmetrical or asymmetrical.

The result showed that intoxicated students had difficulty making these choices, while sober students didn’t, having a clear preference for symmetrical faces. Among the students, women were the most affected. The study didn’t explain exactly why women got more affected and scientists were surprised by this, but thought the difference is the fact that men are more visually oriented than women i.e. “Men tend to ogle more than women do.”

In 2005 researchers at Manchester University then tried to come up with a formula to calculate the effect of alcohol . The research was commissioned by the eye care firm Bausch & Lomb.

It showed that the actual formula was not as simple as first thought, the effect depending not only on how much alcohol is consumed, but also on factors like how smoky the room is, how well lit the “person of interest” is, the distance between the two persons and the drinker’s own eyesight.

They all add up to make the aesthetically-challenged more attractive, according to the formula and the formula can work out a final score, ranging from less than one – where there is no beer goggle effect – to more than 100.

A poll at the time showed that 68% of people had regretted giving their phone number to someone to whom they later realised they were not attracted.

A formula rating of less than one means no effect. Between one and 50 the person you would normally find unattractive appears less “visually offensive”.  Non-appealing people become suddenly attractive between 51 and 100. At more than 100, someone not considered attractive looks like a super model.                                         FORMULA.




An = number of units of alcohol consumed.

S = smokiness of the room (graded from 0-10, where 0 clear air; 10 extremely smoky).

L = luminance of ‘person of interest’ (candelas per square metre; typically 1 pitch black; 150 as seen in normal room lighting).

Vo = Snellen visual acuity (6/6 normal; 6/12 just meets driving standard).

d = distance from ‘person of interest’ (metres; 0.5 to 3 metres).

All I can say is good luck doing the math when you’re pissed!




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