Association of Alcohol Consumption with Perception of Attractiveness in a Naturalistic Environment

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Abstract

Aims

To investigate the relationship between objectively-assessed alcohol consumption and perception of attractiveness in naturalistic drinking environments, and to determine the feasibility and acceptability of conducting a large-scale study in these environments.

Methods

Observational study conducted simultaneously across three public houses in Bristol, UK. Participants were required to rate the attractiveness of male and female face stimuli and landscape stimuli administered via an Android tablet computer application, after which their expired breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) was measured.

Results

Linear regression revealed no clear evidence for relationships between alcohol consumption and either overall perception of attractiveness for stimuli, for faces specifically, or for opposite-sex faces. The naturalistic research methodology was feasible, with high levels of participant engagement and enjoyment.

Conclusions

We found no evidence for a relationship between alcohol consumption and perception of attractiveness in our large-scale naturalistic study. Our study is important given the large sample size, the successful translation of an experimental, laboratory-based paradigm to a naturalistic drinking environment and the high level of public engagement with the study. Future studies should use similarly ecologically-valid methodologies to further explore the conditions under which this effect may be observed and identify the mechanisms underlying any relationships.

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