Want to Be More Attractive? Science Says Have a Drink.

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one drink makes you more attractive

Getting your business portrait photo taken? Meeting new people at a networking event? Here’s some counter-intuitive advice: consider having a drink. You may be seen as being more attractive.

We’ve all heard expressions like “looking through beer goggles” that suggest other people look better after you’ve had a few drinks. Surprising research now shows that a little alcohol can make the drinker look better to others as well.

University of Bristol researchers conducted an experiment in which heterosexual individuals rated photos of an opposite-sex subject under two conditions. One photo was of the subject in a no-alcohol condition, and the other was of the subject after consuming a low or high dose of alcohol.

Want to Be More Attractive? Science Says Have a Drink. Or Maybe Two. Click To Tweet

Surprisingly, the “low dose” drinkers were judged to be better looking by the sober evaluators than their no-alcohol selves.

If One Is Good…

Before you head for the closest bar to see just how attractive you can become, be aware that the scientists evaluated the appearance of the subjects in a “low dose” and “high dose” condition. When the subjects had consumed a larger amount of alcohol, they were judged to be less attractive than in the sober condition.

This is definitely one case where more is probably not better. A modest amount of alcohol has the surprising effect of improving one’s facial appearance, but more alcohol, predictably, has the opposite effect.

Why Do You Look Better After a Drink?

It seems counterintuitive that one looks better after consuming alcohol. One thinks of bleary eyes, a slack face, a slumped posture… but in the low dose condition, the subjects were hardly inebriated.

The scientists speculate that the modest amount of alcohol creates a slight facial flush which is evident in the photographs. Another possibility is that the faces appear more relaxed or express more positive emotion.

How Many Drinks Will Make YOU Look Good?

Although the shorthand for the doses tested is one drink (low dose) or two (high dose), that may be a bit misleading. Quite properly, the scientists varied the amount of alcohol based on the weight of the subject. The low dose condition was, for a 154 pound (70 kg) subject, 250 ml (8.5 oz) of 14% ABV wine. With a standard pour of wine in the 4-5 ounce range, that’s close to two glasses. The 14% alcohol content is a bit higher than most wines, too, with 13.5% being very common for both red and white wines.

Put another way, the low dose condition was one-third of a typical 750 ml bottle of wine for a person weighing 154 pounds (70 kg). The high dose condition that resulted in a photo rated as less attractive was two-thirds of a bottle.

attractiveness-boost

So, people above that weight, the “low dose” is more like a couple of glasses of wine. Two typical beers or normal cocktails would provide a similar dose.

Smaller individuals might find that one drink is optimal for the appearance-boosting effect.

dont-overdo-it

Here’s a chart I prepared using the data from the paper. This comes with a few big cautions…

  • The effects of alcohol vary by person. In the study, the scientists chose moderate drinkers and avoided non-drinkers as well as high-volume consumers.
  • The alcohol percentage varies greatly in different beverages. Beer alone can be found with alcohol percentages (ABV) from 3% to 10%, with outliers beyond that range. This makes for huge differences in the amount of alcohol in the same size glass. Don’t use the volume suggestions without adjusting for real alcohol levels.
  • Pour sizes can also vary greatly. A “shot” in Germany is a mere 20ml, while in most countries it’s 40-50ml. In Italy and Israel, a single shot can run as high as 60ml. Similarly, a pint glass may not always contain 16 ounces of liquid, and wine pour size can differ greatly as well.
  • Don’t over-consume in an effort to look more attractive. The net result won’t be pretty.

Low dose calculations by weight and type of beverage.

How many glasses of wine will it take to make YOU look good? Find out here: Click To Tweet
Some think of university researchers as impossible idealists who rarely discover anything practical. One has to admit that discovering that one or two drinks not only makes the people around you look better, but lets you be more attractive, is of enormous practical significance.

Furthermore, I predict this paper will cause a surge in scientific research at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. I expect that university students worldwide will attempt to replicate these findings on their own (under a variety of experimental conditions) and, perhaps, emerge with even more interesting data. (Sadly, few of these results are likely to be published.)

Let us know how your own experiments turn out!

2 Comments
  1. Michael says

    The main thing about alcohol that can make you attractive is ‘how you feel.’ I remember back when I was younger I was really into that Pick-up Artist stuff (PUA) and their big thing was to have 2 drinks max. That was enough to loosen you up, make you social, and keep a drink in your hand so you don’t look like a square, but it was also not so much that you get drunk and start acting like a fool.

    1. Roger Dooley
      Twitter: rogerdooley
      says

      Michael, the two drink max is pretty close to the recommended “maximum attractiveness” low dose (depending on weight, of course). This study used only photos, so the effect was purely on appearance. But, other research has shown that alcohol does increase socialization. See Boozing & Schmoozing: Alcohol Boosts Bonding. That study used two drinks as well, as I recall. So, the scientists and the PUA folks are in agreement.

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