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Beer Goggles Image Source

The Cambridge Online Dictionary:

If you say that someone is wearing beer goggles, you mean that they have been drinking so much alcohol that they think someone is more sexually attractive than they really are.



The Mythbusters tested this in a Season 6 episode and deemed it "Plausible".



Researchers from the Universities of St Andrews and Glasgow seem to concur:

... men and women who have consumed a moderate amount of alcohol find the faces of members of the opposite sex 25% more attractive than their sober counterparts.

Professor Barry Jones said his study suggests that alcohol boosts the activity of the part of the human brain which is used to determine facial attractiveness, the nucleus accumbens.



Lewis Halsey of Roehampton University in London also supports beer googles :

Drinking alcohol hurts our ability to detect asymmetrical faces.

What's more, the data suggest that men were less prone to losing their symmetry-detecting ability when intoxicated than women.



However, Vincent Egan from the University of Leicester, says different and debunks beer goggles in his study:

... found that alcohol actually has the opposite effect and made men see women as less attractive.



My question:
Can alcohol influence your brain in such a way that ugly ducklings transform into beauties?

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    I don't think it's influencing you to see someone as attractive, but rather just impairing your judgement. Slight distinction, but probably the more accurate approach to the question. – JasonR May 12 '11 at 15:37
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    Informal studies conducted during my school years indicate that this theory is valid. However, this particular chemical reaction often yields toxic by-products the following morning. – Monkey Tuesday May 12 '11 at 17:14
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    @Brightblades - Impairing automatically implies some sort deficiency. But the scottish study I link to suggests that a certain part of the brain actually gets stimulated, thus causing a "beautification". – Oliver_C May 12 '11 at 17:22
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    Good points. But is the part of the brain that is affected the visual cortex, judgement centers, or something else? To be honest, I have no idea. And my anectdotes from younger years probably don't count. – JasonR May 12 '11 at 17:25
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    @Monkey Tuesday - Not to mention some "arm gnawing"? ;) – JasonR May 12 '11 at 17:25
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Referring to Shakespeare shows the Beer Googles effect is not particularly new.... :)

It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance. Therefore, much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery.

Seriously though, there have been numerous studies on the effects of alcohol, agreeing with Shakespeare's ribald Porter.

Alcohol and human sexuality: review and integration. Crowe LC, George WH. in 1989 found that..

The review concludes (a) that alcohol disinhibits psychological sexual arousal and suppresses physiological responding, the former effect being stronger at lower doses of alcohol and the latter effect at higher doses; (b) that although suppression is strictly pharmacological in nature, disinhibition appears to be both pharmacological (the result of cognitive impairment) and psychological (the result of socially learned expectancies); and (c) that expectancies and cognitive impairment can disinhibit separately or jointly.

I found this interesting though - there is a measurable effect on vision after alcohol consumption

Alcohol, thus, appears to have both global and local effects upon the neural correlates of the MVPT-R (The Motor-Free Visual Perception Test-Revised) task, some of which are dose dependent.

So - let us observe someone who is intoxicated with alcohol. He has increased Psychological arousal, whilst his visual Perception is also affected. If you throw into this mix that alcohol also has detrimental effects on his reasoning, it seems less likely that an intoxicated man will notice imperfections in a potential partner, and will probably have lesser ability to discriminate too.

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