The Beer Goggle Effect Is Finally Explained: It's All About Sex

Because some people have awesome jobs, a group of researchers recently set out to study the beer goggle effect. What is it about that third or fourth shot that makes everyone around you all of a sudden more attractive?

It turns out it doesn’t. It just makes you want to have sex more, which I guess lowers your standards. Dr. Amanda Ellison of Durham University in the U.K. says that, “We still see others basically as they are … there is no imagined physical transformation -- just more desire.”


Ellison’s new book, Getting Your Head Around the Brain, explains that the desire to mate never goes away, even at very high levels of intoxication. You know what does go away the more you drink? Inhibitions. Alcohol shuts down the portion of the brain that keeps us from acting on our impulses.

Essentially, when we’re sober, our brains are smarter about the mating selection process, and we are more discerning of potential sexual partners. Ellison says we are “constantly weighing up questions of looks versus personality in our search for the right soul [mate].” When we drink, we’re more interested in the sex than in finding a life partner.

Also when we drink, we’re more likely to be more assertive with a come-hither attitude -- regardless of our levels of inebriation. A study published in the British Journal of Psychology last year showed that people were more confident in their abilities even if they only believed they were tipsy.

The researchers gave a group of people non-alcoholic beverages, but told half of them that they had the real thing. They then asked individuals to give a speech and rate themselves on it. The ones that were made to believe they were intoxicated gave themselves better scores than those that knew they were sober.

The researchers behind the study noted, “the mere belief that one has consumed alcohol increases self-perceived attractiveness.”

So basically drinking doesn’t give us beer goggles per se, but it does take away some discernment when it comes to picking sexual partners. Combine that with a confidence boost from an increase in self-perception, and you’ve got a recipe for hook-ups.

Have you ever felt the effect of beer goggles?

Image via A of DooM/Flickr

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