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Addiction. 2003 Aug;98(8):1069-75.

Alcohol consumption increases attractiveness ratings of opposite-sex faces: a possible third route to risky sex.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.



To measure the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on males' and females' attractiveness ratings of unfamiliar male and female faces.


Eighty undergraduate volunteers were used in each of three experiments.


Participants' ratings on a 1-7 scale was the dependent variable. A three-factor mixed design was used. For experiments 1 and 2: one within-factor, sex-of-face to be rated (male/female); two between-factors, sex-of-rater (male/female) and alcohol status of rater (0 UK units/1-6 UK units). For experiment 3, the two levels of sex-of-face were replaced by two levels of a non-face object. In experiment 1, the faces were rated for attractiveness; in experiment 2, the faces were rated for distinctiveness and in experiment 3, the non-face objects were rated for attractiveness.


Quiet, prepared corners of bars and licensed eating areas on a civic university campus.


For each experiment, 118 full-colour photographic images were presented randomly on a laptop computer screen, each remaining until a rating response was made.


There was a significant alcohol consumption enhancement effect only for attractiveness ratings of opposite-sex faces in experiment 1. This indicates that the opposite-sex enhancement effect is not due simply to alcohol consumption causing the use of higher points of ratings scales, in general.


Since Agocha & Cooper have shown that the likelihood of intentions to engage in risky sex increases as the facial attractiveness of the potential sexual partner increases, through the opposite-sex enhancement effect we identify a new possible link between risky sex and alcohol consumption.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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