London: The mystery of "beer goggles" — the phenomenon by which people find opposite sex more attractive after just a few alcoholic drinks—has finally been solved.
Researchers at Roehampton University claim to have found that the beer goggles effect all comes down to symmetry, where one side mirrors the other, or people's perception of symmetry after a couple of hours in a bar.
In other words, alcohol dulls the drinker's ability to recognise cockeyed, asymmetrical faces. "Alcohol affects our innate human ability to choose a mate. We tend to prefer faces that are symmetrical," team leader Lewis Halsey said.
For their research, the team designed an experiment involving images of faces that were tinkered with to make them perfectly symmetrical or subtly asymmetrical.
Some 101 students were recruited for the experiment after they took a quick breathalyser test to confirm their alcohol consumption. The students were classified as either sober or
intoxicated, then examined the images, the UK press reported.
Twenty images of a pair of faces -- one symmetrical, the other asymmetrical -- and then 20 images of a single face were shown, one at a time, to 64 students. They were asked to state
which face of each of the pairs was most attractive. They also had to determine if each of the single faces was symmetrical.
The findings, published in the Addiction journal, revealed that sober students had a greater preference for symmetrical faces than did the intoxicated students. And it turned out that the sober students were better at detecting whether a face was symmetrical.
What's more, the data suggest that men were less prone to losing their symmetry-detecting ability when intoxicated than women which was unexpected, Halsey said, adding the difference has something to do with tendency for men to be more visually oriented and more stimulated by what they see.
First Published On : Apr 2, 2012 12:49 IST