Does wine make people seem more beautiful?

How wine changes our view of beauty


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Why do we find others more attractive after sipping wine? This isn't just barroom folklore; it has a foundation in science. Let's uncork this phenomenon and pour out the details.

At the heart of our attraction to others are various facial cues. The femininity or masculinity of a person's face, their gaze, and their smile play significant roles, but so does something less immediately noticeable: bilateral symmetry. Yes, it turns out we have a thing for symmetry, and wine, in its own charming way, blurs our ability to judge this facial feature accurately.

So, how did scientists get to the bottom of this? Through a series of intriguing studies that delve into how alcohol consumption affects our perception of facial attractiveness. The consensus? Most people show a preference for symmetric faces over asymmetric ones. This preference was put to the test by altering images of faces to appear more or less symmetrical. Almost unanimously, study participants found symmetric faces more attractive. Enter wine: it seems to diminish our ability to detect these subtle differences in symmetry.

One such study conducted at the University of Roehampton in London involved 64 sober and inebriated students who were shown 20 pairs of faces and then 20 individual faces. They were asked to choose the more attractive face from each pair and then determine whether the single faces were symmetrical. As blood alcohol levels rose, the students found it increasingly challenging to judge symmetry accurately, indicating that alcohol indeed makes us see others (and possibly ourselves) as more symmetrical and thus more attractive than we might soberly assess.

But what about the phenomenon known as "beer goggles"? This term cheekily describes how alcohol seems to make other people appear more attractive. This isn't about being less picky but genuinely perceiving others as more appealing. The theory goes that alcohol may cause us to see facial symmetry where it isn't and even boost our self-perceived attractiveness for the same reasons.

What's fascinating is that even a single glass of wine can enhance perceived attractiveness. A study published in the journal "Alcohol and Alcoholism" observed that participants who had consumed one glass of wine were rated as more attractive than those who hadn't. This could be due to a combination of factors, such as a slight flush to the cheeks or a relaxation of facial muscles that doesn't tip into sloppiness, which can occur after consuming more.

These studies offer a sip into the complex cocktail of factors that influence attraction, showing how even a modest amount of wine can make us more appealing to ourselves and those around us. It's a reminder of the subtle interplay between biology and behavior, a blend as intricate as the finest wine. So next time you notice the crowd getting prettier as the night goes on, remember, it might just be the wine working its magic.

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