Can Beauty Be-Er Ignored? A Preregistered Implicit Examination of the Beer Goggles Effect

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The beer goggles effect refers to heightened perceptions of attractiveness resulting from intoxication. However, research in this area has produced mixed findings and has largely been reliant on self-report measures of perceived attractiveness. This study aimed to utilize an implicit measure to assess the beer goggles phenomenon in a preregistered study. One hundred twenty-nine heterosexual U.K. university students were recruited (74 female, Mage = 24.12 years, SDage = 9.09 years) in real-life drinking environments (classified post hoc as sober or lightly intoxicated based on Blood Alcohol Concentration [BAC]) to conduct a spatial cuing paradigm that measured the effect of distracting stimuli on task performance. Participants were asked to determine the orientation of a letter while ignoring any incidentally presented (un)attractive facial stimuli. Sober participants appeared to find attractive faces equally distracting, regardless of whether they were being cued to look toward or away from the face—a traditional attractiveness bias. Intoxicated participants, on the other hand, appeared to find attractive and unattractive faces equally distracting. Findings highlight the possibility that the beer goggles phenomenon results from a leveling of the playing field whereby attentional biases toward attractive faces are dampened as a result of light intoxication.

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