Beer goggles, parties…

When I went to that party at uni a little while ago (I tweeted it at the time, but no blog posts) I felt a bit like Jane Goodall. At least during the time periods of it where I was not caught up in social interactions, but perhaps also during the rest of it – I was very aware of the social context. I came to realize that I’ll probably never feel the same way about being at a party as I did when I was younger (I’m not actually that old now, just ‘older’). I also came to realize that this particular method of meeting people of the opposite sex, though inefficient, is not actually necessarily as bad as I’ve been telling myself. Exposure rate is high, you have the potential to meet a lot of people over a short amount of time, and the likelihood of ‘something happening’ goes up quite a bit with the consumption of alcohol, some of the (party-related?) effects of which I’d forgotten all about. As a standard selection and pairing-mechanism, parties like these aren’t really totally stupid, though some people deal better with the setting than others and thus have higher returns from participating – from my own experience I conclude that my expected returns from participating are probably low, however given the right social setting participating in such a thing needn’t be a boring and unpleasant, or perhaps even painful, experience. Though I continue to believe that it’s a far from optimal method. Traditional dating is costly, but those costs could also be considered part of an implicit selection mechanism weeding out non-serious candidates – but a major problem with traditional dating is that you need to meet the potential partner first, which is (certainly part of) the whole point of (these kinds of) parties.

Anyway, below a little random stuff on the beer goggles phenomenon, alcohol and sexual behaviour, partnership and obesity risk ect.:

i. From Beer goggles: blood alcohol concentration in relation to attractiveness ratings for unfamiliar opposite sex faces in naturalistic settings, by Lyvers, Cholakians, Puorro & Sundram:

“The popular notion that alcohol intoxication enhances perceptions of the physical attractiveness of the opposite sex has been inconsistently supported. The current study tested intoxicated and non-intoxicated persons of both genders in naturalistic settings after measuring their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) by a breath test. A sample of 80 heterosexual university student social drinkers was recruited at a campus pub and campus parties over a 3 month period to take a survey rating the attractiveness of unfamiliar faces of the opposite gender presented in photographs. Attractiveness ratings were positively correlated with BAC. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was conducted on attractiveness ratings with independent variables of gender and BAC group, with three levels of the latter: non-intoxicated (BAC = 0), moderately intoxicated (BAC .01%-.09%), and highly intoxicated (BAC .10%-.19%). Both intoxicated groups gave significantly higher attractiveness ratings than non-intoxicated controls. The findings confirm the “beer goggles” phenomenon of folk psychology for both genders, although the mechanism remains unclear.”

I think it’s interesting that the ‘beer goggles’ start kicking in at BACs well below .1% (if they did not, the evaluations of the ‘moderately intoxicated’ group would match those of the non-intoxicated group).

ii. From Alcohol intoxication and self-reported risky sexual behaviour intentions with highly attractive strangers in naturalistic settings :

“Objective: The present investigation examined the relationship between alcohol intoxication and risky sex intentions in naturalistic settings.

Methods: Heterosexual young adults (n == 72) were approached at a campus pub and at campus parties. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was measured by a breath test and ranged from 0 to 0.18%%. Participants rated their likely intent to have sex with 10 highly attractive unfamiliar models of the opposite gender, as depicted in photographs, if the opportunity arose. Photos varied in terms of accompanying information regarding risk, with three levels: slight risk, moderate risk and high risk.

Results: BAC was significantly positively correlated with self-reported likelihood of young adult men engaging in risky sex with highly attractive unfamiliar models at all risk levels, whereas in young adult women the relationship was significant only at the slight risk level. Men reported significantly higher intent to have risky sex than women did at all risk levels.”

iii. From Entry Into Romantic Partnership Is Associated With Obesity, by Natalie S. The & Penny Gordon-Larsen:


“BMI is highly correlated between spouses; however, less is understood about the underlying mechanism(s) by which the development of obesity in one individual increases the risk of obesity in his/her spouse. The objective of this study is to investigate whether romantic partnership and duration of cohabitation are related to incident obesity and obesity-promoting behaviors. We used two data sets from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health: (i) 6,949 US adolescents (wave II, 1996) followed into adulthood (wave III, 2001–2002) and (ii) 1,293 dating, cohabiting, and married romantic couples from wave III, including measured anthropometry and self-report behavior data. In the longitudinal cohort, we used sex-stratified logistic regression models to examine the risk of incident obesity by longitudinal romantic relationship status and duration of time spent living with a romantic partner. In the Couples Sample, we used multinomial logistic regression to predict concordance in outcomes: obesity, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and screen time by romantic partnership and duration of time living with a romantic partner. Individuals who transitioned from single/dating to cohabiting or married were more likely to become obese than those who were dating at both waves. Partner concordance for negative, obesity-related behaviors was strongest for married couples and couples who lived together greater than or equal to 2 years. The shared household environment may increase the likelihood of becoming obese, influence partner concordance, and may be an important target for obesity intervention.”

Some more details:

“Men living with a romantic partner for 1.00–1.99 years were twice as likely to become obese, compared to men not living with a romantic partner.” […]

“Concordant obesity was over threefold higher (prevalence ratio (PR) = 3.30, 95% CI: 1.97–5.55), and discordant obesity twofold higher (PR = 1.90, 95% CI: 1.37–2.63) than concordant nonobesity in married vs. dating partners (Figure 1a). Similarly, married couples were more likely to consist of one or two less physically active partners than dating couples (PR = 2.00, 95% CI: 1.29–3.12 and PR = 2.15, 95% CI: 1.39–3.31, respectively) (Figure 1b), while cohabiting couples were more likely to consist of two sedentary partners (PR = 1.98, 95% CI: 1.37–2.87) (Figure 1c).” […]

“Duration of relationship was strongly associated with concordant obesity. Romantic partners who lived together greater than or equal to 2 years were significantly more likely to consist of one or two obese, less physically active, and more sedentary partners” [To take an example, the Odds Ratio of both partners being obese is 1.18 for a couple that’s been together less than a year (1.0 corresponds to the obesity risk of individuals who’re not living together with a partner), whereas it’s 4.31 for a couple that’s been together for more than 2 years, US]” […]

“Several studies examining longitudinal changes in romantic relationship status report a differential sex effect of entry into marriage, with greater weight gain in women (9,10,30). Women may be differentially impacted by transitions in romantic relationship status; for example, through increased social obligations encouraging consumption of regular meals (31,32) and larger portion sizes (33), resulting in increased energy intake (30). Further, entry into cohabitation or marriage is associated with decreased physical activity (34) and a decline in desire to maintain weight for the purpose of attracting a mate (6). In contrast, obese women may be less likely to marry (35). Our longitudinal findings suggest that both men and women who enter marriage are more likely to become obese, consistent with findings from another large, racially diverse sample of young adults (36). Moreover, we found that individuals who lived with romantic partners for a longer duration had higher likelihood of incident obesity suggesting that shared household environmental factors may contribute to changes in obesity.”

It’s an American study, but I’m pretty sure some of the mechanisms driving the results apply as well in other parts of the world.


September 25, 2011 - Posted by | alcohol, Data, dating, Personal, Psychology, Studies

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