SCIENCE PROVES FOOD IS ALSO THE WAY TO A WOMAN’S HEART

It’s long been said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. And in a win for food-loving women everywhere who’ve long proclaimed the same, scientists at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine have finally proven that women respond more to romantic cues on fuller stomachs, too.

Scientists tested the theory by viewing brain activity in response to romantic stimulation in women who had fasted, and in women with full stomachs. In the most unsurprising news to anyone who’s tasted the powerful aphrodisiac also known as pizza, they concluded that women demonstrated greater brain activation in reward-related neural regions after eating, meaning they are more open to, um….other rewarding activities shortly after a satisfying meal.

“This data suggests that eating may prime or sensitize young women to rewards beyond food… it also supports a shared neurocircuitry for food and sex,” reported the research’s first author Alice Ely, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine. Looks like George Costanza had the right idea, all along.

Wine, dine, and be happy.

TAKE NOTICE PINELLAS STALKERS: STUDY FINDS THAT ONLINE HARASSERS ARE LITERALLY LOSERS

When you are in a relationship with someone, undoubtedly, their past is sure to arise at some point. So when multiple notifications from different social networks started showing up on the computer which my girlfriend and I share, it was nothing at at first… a new message from Ryan McCoy of Tampa on Facebook. Quickly it escalated two, three then seven unanswered messages, followed by Direct Messages on Twitter, emails and even LinkedIn messages. So, it was time to ask… “Who the fuck is this guy and what the Hell is wrong with him?” I know if I send someone a message and don’t get a response, I leave that person alone. Maybe they’re busy or just do not wish to respond. The latter being the case in this scenario.

It’s a practice that is certainly foreign to me… and something I find not only desperate, but quite frankly pathetic. I have heard of this harassment before from female friends and colleagues so I decided to take a look deeper into the research which attempts to look into the minds of these “losers”.

Here’s a research finding that should surprise no one: The men most likely to harass women online … are the men most likely to have their own problems.

That bit of validation comes courtesy Michael Kasumovic and Jeffrey Kuznekoff, researchers at the University of New South Wales and Miami University, respectively. For their latest study, published in the journal PLOS One last week, the duo watched how men treated women during 163 plays of the video game Halo 3.

As they watched the games play out and tracked the comments that players made to each other, the researchers observed that — no matter their skill level, or how the game went — men tended to be pretty cordial to each other. Male players who were good at the game also tended to pay compliments to other male and female players.

Some male players, however — the ones who were less-skilled at the game, and performing worse relative their peers — made frequent, nasty comments to the female gamers. In other words, sexist dudes are literally losers.

A chart from the Halo study that shows how nice male gamers were to other males (dotted line) and females (solid line) during gameplay. Men always treat each other about the same. But the better a player gets, the more likely he is to be nice to ladies. (Kasumovic et al)

In today’s online environment, alas, this is not an idle observation. According to a recent Pew report, 40 percent of Internet users have personally experienced harassment. While both genders are frequent victims of this abuse, women tend to get the worst of it: They are “particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking,” Pew said.

I asked Kasumovic, the lead author on the study, how applicable his findings were in other online or offline settings. In other words, how much of this derives from human nature, and how much of it relates to the unique demands of first-person shooters?

Kasumovic argues that video games actually make incredible proxies for studying real-life behavior — Halo 3, especially.

There are three things you should know about the game, for the purpose of understanding this study: (1) players are anonymous, and the possibility of “policing individual behavior is almost impossible”; (2) they only encounter each other a few times in passing — it’s very possible to hurl an expletive at another player, and never “see” him or her again; and (3) finally, and perhaps predictably, the sex-ratio of players is biased pretty heavily toward men. (A 2014 survey of gender ratios on Reddit found that r/halo was over 95 percent male.)

That should sound a whole lot like a lot of other, frequently sexist online spaces: Think Twitter. Or Reddit. Or 4chan.

In each of these environments, Kasumovic suggests, a recent influx of female participants has disrupted a pre-existing social hierarchy. That’s okay for the guys at the top — but for the guys at the bottom, who stand to lose more status, that’s very threatening. (It’s also in keeping with the evolutionary framework on anti-lady hostility, which suggests sexism is a kind of Neanderthal defense mechanism for low-status, non-dominant men trying to maintain a shaky grip on their particular cave’s supply of women.)

“As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status,” Kasumovic writes, “the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank.”

In other words, like your mother always said, bullies just feel bad about themselves.

This does not, alas, suggest any solutions for on- or offline sexism, or any hope that it will ever really end. (“There are so many more questions we’ve already begun to to ask and our results are looking really interesting,” Kasumovic said.)

Until then, ladies, Facebook and Pinterest are your friends! Those are, for better or worse, two of the online spaces where this type of sex-ratio imbalance isn’t much of a problem: Women on both sites solidly outnumber men.

What Happens When You Date Your Same Astrology Sign

Dating your own zodiac sign can be tricky, since the other person will reflect both your best and worst traits right back at you. Cancers are as cozy together as two bugs in a rug, but they can also drive each other crazy with their moodiness. Aquarians may be the best of friends, but could remain so detached that true passion never quite catches fire. And Leos? God forbid you should both want to be the center of attention at the same time! Let’s see how dating your own sign would work for you.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)
This can be a tough match. You’re both hot-headed, want your way, and tend to blame the other person when things go wrong. On the other hand, you spark each other’s passionate nature, and will have lots of active fun together. Fighting fairly is the key to your success … yes, there will be fights! “Never go to bed angry” should be your relationship’s motto.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

The Bull is stubborn, with a one-track mind. If you’re on the same track, great! If not, you’ll both need to expand your comfort zones — not an easy task for either one of you. You’re both passionate about your own ideas and opinions, so if one of you is conservative and the other liberal, you’re in for trouble. Sports and sensual enjoyment can keep you together.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

Twins never bore each other. In fact, there may be too much unpredictability in this match. One of you will have to become the “stable one” and cultivate a home life, or you may not stay together long enough or go deep enough emotionally to plant your roots. You can, however, talk through any issues that arise, and enjoy a diverse social life together.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

This is one of the better same-sign matches. You’re both nurturing and love to snuggle up at home. So what if you don’t get out much? The biggest drawback, once you learn to tolerate each other’s moods (and not take them personally!), is that your tendency to mother each other can smother the sexual spark. You make great parents, though.

Leo (July 23 – Aug.t 22)
This is a volatile match! You both need a lot of attention, and tend to pout if you don’t get it — so you’ll need to trade off making the other person feel special. Passions run high, which is great for sex, but take care you don’t say or do something in the heat of a fight that fatally damages the relationship. Mutual respect is the key to this union.

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22)
If you’re both dedicated to the higher Virgo goals of health and service, this could be a match made in heaven. Just don’t try to improve the other person or criticize their behavior — which kills the passion. Overanalyzing the relationship can also make it wither on the vine. Plant a garden or do yoga together and you’ll bring out the best in each other.

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22)

This can be a lovely union — you’re both attuned to pleasing the other person and cultivating balance and fairness. The danger, though, is that you’ll stay too superficial — projecting a beautiful image of love while resentments bubble below the surface. You’ll have to be willing to rock the boat a bit so this match can come into its full potential.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21)
Passion, danger, intrigue … two Scorpios have it all! Maybe too much so. Trust is the crucial ingredient that makes this match work. If one or both partners is suspicious or jealous, you’re in for a rocky ride. It’s essential to share your deepest feelings in this union, but don’t bonk the other person over the head with them, or you’ll spur resentment.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21)

Here’s a fun match! You’ll be kayaking and motorcycling together to your hearts’ content. Your strong opinions can lead to spirited discussions, but you’re both okay with that. Real trouble looms when one of you wants a commitment and the other prefers to stay footloose. A higher spiritual purpose and shared dreams can keep you together.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19)

You might not think this would be a great romantic match, since both of you are hard-headed realists. Yet that very practical nature lets you appreciate who the other person really is, devoid of illusions. You can be yourself in this relationship. Just don’t let your worldly ambitions or need for status take precedence over a nurturing home life.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18)
Aquarians are very open-minded, and can tolerate — and even enjoy — each other’s eccentricities. And, you make the best of friends. However, the emotional realm is not your forte, so you both may shy away from declaring your feelings and taking things into deeper waters. To cultivate passion, you’ll have to venture out of your comfort zone.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20)
You’re both dreamers — which works both for you and against you. Two Fish can float around endlessly in a lovely fantasy, never casting anchor into a secure reality. You tend to wear rose-colored glasses, and that means your sweetheart can do no wrong — which is great, unless that person has serious problems. Get a third party to handle your finances.

3 Scientific Reasons We Are Psychologically Programmed To Cheat On Our Partners

There are many romantic things about monogamy. Having one person who knows you inside and out for the rest of your life is a beautiful thought. And relying on only one person makes life a lot simpler.

But how natural is monogamy?

There are many romantic things about monogamy. Having one person who knows you inside and out for the rest of your life is a beautiful thought. And relying on only one person makes life a lot simpler.

But how natural is monogamy?

Well, according to science: it’s not — and these three reasons are to blame.

1. Men And Women Lose Interest In Sex Over Time.

For ladies, the lovin’ usually goes out the door. You may try to spice things up with lingerie or toys but science shows women aren’t designed for long-term desire. Research has found that women tend to go from having passionate love to compassionate love over time, meaning the relationship turns into more of a platonic friendship.

Psychology Today found that men’s sex drives suffer in monogamous relationships. One reason being that conflict in the relationship tends to hinder sex. However, when a man finds a new partner, sexual excitement returns.

2. Monogamy Kills Women’s Best Years Of Sex.

You’ve probably heard before but men’s sex drive is in its prime in their 20s whereas women hit it in their 30s and 40s. Furthermore, science has found that women who are in relationships throughout these prime years report low sexual desire when in reality, these are the years they should be having the best sex of their lives!

3. We Naturally Want To Cheat.

According to the National Science Foundation, only three to five percent of mammals are monogamous. Studies have found that sexual monogamy also relies on hormones and receptors that the brain releases. Humans’ receptors vary from person-to-person resulting in some people leaning more towards polyamory than others. So if your partner has cheated, he might just not be cut out for monogamy. But don’t worry — he probably still loves you.

Tinder Adds Instagram Integration, Expanded Interests and Common Connections

Everyone’s favorite online dating platform, Tinder, has just announced that it will be adding new features – Instagram Integration, Expanded Interests and Common Connections – designed to provide more context surrounding potential matches. The update now allows for Instagram photos, Facebook interests and shared friends to be directly added to your profile, increasing your chances in finding that special someone.

Get a closer look and check out the video highlighting Tinder’s new features below.

[youtube id=”jwqj-wqzt9Q” width=”600″ height=”350″]

Apple, Facebook, Other Tech Companies Back Gay Marriage

Some of the biggest tech companies in the world want to convince the Supreme Court that gay marriage should be legal in all 50 states. Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft are a few of the 379 companies that added their names to an amicus brief that says they are “distinctly disadvantaged when looking to hire qualified, talented personnel in the states that do not allow same-sex couples to marry, or in asking current personnel to relocate to such states.” The brief argues that people in gay marriages could avoid jobs in states where their previously recognized benefits might be denied. Such an environment, the companies wrote, could also leave employees feeling “isolated and fearful.” The brief was filed on Thursday by law firm Morgan Lewis. “Employees with partners of the same sex should be permitted to marry if they so choose, and then should be treated identically to their married heterosexual counterparts,” the companies said. “State laws that require otherwise impose a significant burden on us and harm our ability to attract and retain the best employees.” The Supreme Court is expected to rule in June whether states can ban gay marriage.

The Scientific Reasons You Should Definitely Date Someone With Tattoos

Tattoos have long been associated with the rebellious and the reckless, the irresponsible and the unprofessional. But today, tattoos aren’t the bold symbol or social statement they were a few decades ago. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 4 in 10 millennials have a tattoo. Of those who do, about 50% have two or more.

Tattoos are officially the new normal. That might be because getting inked does not signify living an unconventional lifestyle or having fringe values. In fact, tattoos indicate many wonderful qualities about a person, particularly in the context of relationships.

Here are some reasons, according to science, that people with tattoos may actually be the greatest to date.

1. Since tattoos are so visible to the outside world (especially in the summer), they serve as compelling conversation starters. In fact, a 2013 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior that placed non-inked and tattooed women on a beach found that men were much more likely to approach women sporting tattoos. In the study, it took the men an average of 11 minutes less to approach the inked women. The study also concluded, “Men estimated to have more chances to have a date and to have sex on the first date with tattooed” participants.

Not only do people make assumptions that those with tattoos might be more willing to talk to a stranger, but tattoos are a conversation piece for that opening line — “Where’d you get that?” or “Nice tattoo. What’s it mean?”

“If a girl is attracted to me, it’s definitely a great topic,” Mark Fuentes, a Massachusetts-based tattoo artist.

2. While getting tattoos isn’t necessarily compulsive or irresponsible, studies have shown that people who get inked are more prone to risk-taking. While some risky behaviors are less desirable than others, an adventurous person can bring all sorts of benefits to a relationship.

“I have nine tattoos so far and I have dated two women with tattoos. I do find women, and a handful of men, with tattoos attractive. There’s something kind of cool and wild about them that I guess I don’t see in myself,” explains Ryan, 26, to Mic.

And that “wildness” and openness to new experiences means they’re more likely to find unexpected opportunities in relationships.

3. “I think it shows a certain bravery, and overall badassness,” Fuentes says of when he first sees somebody with a tattoo. Indeed, a tattoo might mark someone as brave and confident. And confidence pays off in relationships — a person with more confidence feels less insecure and more trusting.

A 2011 study discovered that tattooed men and women reported high self-esteem, low appearance anxiety and high body appreciation in three weeks after getting their tattoos.

As Fuentes put it to Mic, “Do tattoos have the power to effect the perception of every single person you meet or even just sees you? Yeah.”

A small survey conducted by therapist John D. Moore found that 85% of the women surveyed viewed men with tattoos as more fun, and 68% associated them with confidence. In fact, OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder analyzed what makes people appear attractive on the dating site and found that women garner interest by playing up what makes them unique. Tattooed women “show off what makes them different, and who cares if some people don’t like it. And they get lots of attention from men,” he concludes.

This level of confidence and self-awareness might translate to a more liberal attitude towards sex. A 2012 study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that people with tattoos usually have their first sexual encounter at an earlier age and had sex more frequently than their non-tatted counterparts. While the study confirmed that tattoos weren’t associated with risky sexual behaviors, the study suggests tattooed people are open sexually and might sooner act on those desires.

4. Tattoos inevitably send all sorts of messages out to the world. Whereas historically tattoos were used to mark ourselves as part of a tribe or community, their messages are now more personal. Professor Nicholas Thomas, Director of the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University, told CNN that “body art is becoming the opposite of conformity, a sort of badge of travel, or internationalism. People visit places and make them parts of themselves, so that they will forever bear marks of their unique visit.”

He added, “Our identities are far more particular, linked to our interests, affinities to cultural or spiritual traditions, tastes in music, and subcultural allegiances. The tattoo has become a vehicle for that sort of particular identification.”

Using a visible mode of expression contributes to the perception of tattooed people as being more open and unguarded. For some, a tattoo can indicate a generosity of spirit. “A tattoo allows me to permanently express myself and hold a moment forever. My tattoos are a bouquet of memories that I’ve shared with people I love, people I used to love, and most importantly, memories with myself,” said Kristin Collins Jackson on Bustle.

Ryan sees tattooed people as ready to share more stories and share their own “cultural beliefs.” And science has shown that self-disclosure and free expression are the cornerstones of intimacy.

Since tattoos are almost always symbolic of something else, they can also indicate depth. “Personally, I always have a sense of ‘there’s more to this person than I think’ when I see a tattoo. Tattoos are commitments. In a way, it’s a commitment to standing for something for the rest of your life,” explains Susan, 26, who tends to date tattooed guys.

And who isn’t looking for more signs of commitment when dating?

The History Behind Valentine’s Day

While not thought to be directly related to modern Valentine’s Day traditions, the beginnings of celebrating love (of a sort) in February date back to the Romans. The feast of Lupercalia was a pagan fertility and health festival, observed from February 13th through the 15th, that was celebrated at least as far back as 44 BCE (the year Julius Caesar was assassinated). Some historians believe it goes back even further, though with possibly a different name.

Connected to the Roman god Lupercus, (the equivalent to the Greek god Pan), the festival was originally supposed to be about shepherds and bringing health and fertility to their sheep and cows. When it became more ingrained into Roman culture, it additionally celebrated Lupa (also another possible reason it is named what it is), the she-wolf who nursed the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, to health. Religious offerings happened at the cave on Palatine Hill, the place where Rome was thought to be founded.

The ceremonies were filled with animal sacrifices, the wearing of goat skins, and nudity. Priests would lead sacrifices of goats and young dogs, animals who were thought to have a “strong sexual instinct.” Afterwards, a feast would occur with lots of wine flowing. When everyone was fat and happy, the men would shed their clothes, drape the goat skins from the earlier sacrifice on their naked bodies, and run around the city striking naked women.

As Plutarch described:

Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.

It has also been speculated that there was match-making that went on during the feast, akin to what people did at festivals during the Middle Ages. Whether the original feast had it or not, later, young men would draw names of young woman, randomly pairing up one another during the feast. If the pairing was agreeable, a marriage could potentially be arranged. If not, well, they broke up.

As the years went by, the feast of Lupercalia was celebrated less by the higher class and the aristocratic and enjoyed almost exclusively by the working class. In fact, the wealthy would insult one another by telling each other to attend the feast of Lupercalia.

In the fifth century, Pope Hilary tried to get the festival banned due to it being a pagan ritual and unchristian. At the end of the fifth century (appx 496 AD), Pope Gelasius I did end up banning it. In a long letter sent to all Roman nobility who wanted the festival to continue, he stated, “If you assert that this rite has salutary force, celebrate it yourselves in the ancestral fashion; run nude yourselves that you may properly carry out the mockery.”

Pope Gelasius also established a much more Christian celebration and declared it would be honored on February 14th – a feast in which St. Valentine would be the patron saint.

Between the second and eighth centuries, the name Valentine was actually rather common since it translated from Latin meaning “strong or powerful.” Scattered through the Christian religion over the last two thousand years, there have been a dozen different Valentines who have drawn mention, including a Pope (during the 9th century, but was only Pope for two months). It seems the Valentine that Pope Gelasius dedicated a feast to may have been a composite of two or three different men.  You see, he never made it clear who exactly he was trying to honor, and even the Catholic Church today isn’t sure.

One of the Valentines lived in the third century and was beheaded under the rule of Emperor Claudius, alleged by some to be because he illegally married Christian couples. Claudius (as did other Emperors before him) believed that soldiers fought better and were more loyal if they were single and had no wife to return home too. So, he banned soldiers from being married.

Another account speaks of a Valentine being killed in the Roman province of Africa because he wouldn’t give up being Christian in the 4th century. Yet another was the Bishop of Interamna (in Italy) during 3rd century; he was beheaded.

Back to 496 AD: Pope Gelasius I instituted the feast in which St. Valentine would be the patron saint, which some have conjectured was meant as a replacement for Lupercalia. After all, co-opting pagan rituals to turn them Christian has been a time-honored practice of the Catholic Church. Whatever the motivations, Gelasius’ new feast didn’t really catch on and no such holiday was commonly celebrated in the middle of February for the next thousand years or so, until the 14th century.

(It should also be noted that while Pope Gelasius did ban Lupercalia and proposed a new holiday, it is thought by many historians to be relatively unrelated to modern Valentine’s Day, in that it seems to have had nothing to do with love. For instance, it has been speculated that it was simply a feast of Purification.)

So what about the more recent direct genesis of Valentine’s Day? This began with Geoffrey Chaucer, who is more known as the writer of The Canterbury Tales. However, he also wrote other things, such as a 700 line poem in 1382 called the “Parliament of Foules,” written in honor of the first anniversary of King Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia’s engagement.  This poem is generally considered to include the first explicit Valentine’s Day / love connection ever written, with one of the lines reading (of course, translated to modern English),

“For this was Saint Valentine’s day, when every bird of every kind that men can imagine comes to this place to choose his mate.”

While some scholars believed Chaucer invented the Valentine’s Day / love connection that was previously not mentioned in any writings that have survived to this day, it may well have been that he simply helped popularized the idea.  Around the same time Chaucer was penning this poem, at least three other notable authors (Otton de Grandson, John Gower, and Pardo from Valencia) were also referencing St. Valentine’s Day and the mating of birds in their poems.

Whatever the case, the idea of Valentine’s Day being a day for lovers caught on, with an early Valentine being written by Margery Brewes in 1477 to John Paston, who she called “my right well-beloved Valentine.”

Over a century later, Shakespeare was writing about Valentine’s Day in, among other works, Hamlet with this line,

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.

Fast-forward to around the 18th century and the idea of exchanging love note cards on Valentine’s Day started to become extremely popular in Britain, first hand-made then produced commercially (initially called “Mechanical Valentines”). This tradition of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day soon spread to America.  Esther A. Howland, whose father ran a large book and stationary store, received a Valentine and decided this would be a great way to make money; so was inspired to begin mass producing these cards in the 1850s in the United States. Others followed suit.

Since then, the holiday has steadily grown to today when it is an absolute marketing and money making machine (second only to Christmas in money spent by consumers).  Further, according to the Greeting Card Association, more than 25% of all cards sent each year are Valentine’s Day cards, about one billion cards each year.  In the 1980s, the diamond industry decided it wanted its cut and began running marketing campaigns promoting Valentine’s Day as a day to give jewelry to show you really loved someone, instead of just sending cards and chocolates; this was obviously a very successful campaign.

So, this year on Valentine’s Day, when you have your hands full of roses, chocolates, and Hallmark Cards for your Valentine, you’ll know who to thank – Pope Gelasius banning a naked, drunk pagan ritual, the beheading of a guy for supposedly marrying people, and Geoffrey Chaucer and his Parliament of Foule

Tinder Plus Coming to U.S. Next Month

Tinder, the popular dating app, is getting ready to launch a subscription-based service called Tinder Plus next month which will require a paid-membership, but allow users to undo selections they have made and include a feature called Passport which lets people broaden their search criteria to geographic regions outside their immediate location, giving users access to matches around the world. The update is already being tested in select markets, with price points being tinkered with in the UK, Brazil and Germany. Rumours suggest that the updated version of the app could cost anywhere between $1.99 and $19.99 for a monthly subscription.

Why People Look More Attractive When You’re Drinking

Anyone who has been in a crowded bar around closing time would agree that the higher your alcohol consumption, the more attractive you seem to find whoever you happen to be flirting with at last call. Their smile is radiant; their eyes are sparkling- everything about them is sexy, alluring and irresistible. However, if you were stone-cold sober, you might not give them a second glance, and if you get carried away and spend the night with your new friend, you may wake up the next morning and wonder just what the hell you were thinking – and seeing.

This is called the Beer Goggles phenomenon, and most of us that partake have fallen into its trap to one degree or another. The first question that comes to mind is whether or not the individuals you’re looking at are really more attractive to you or if your judgment of things is simply being impaired by alcohol.  So perhaps they really look the same to you as later, but when drunk you just don’t care, with alcohol increasing your desire for sex and suppressing your inhibitions.

But it turns out, several studies done in the last few decades are beginning to show that it’s not all just being extra horny and less picky.  For instance, a study done by St. Andrews and Glasgow Universities found that “… men and women who have consumed a moderate amount of alcohol find the faces of members of the opposite sex 25% more attractive than their sober counterparts.”

Other studies have shown similar trends. For instance, another study done at the University of Bristol with 84 college students showed that, on average, they rated people’s attractiveness 10% higher a mere 15 minutes after drinking a moderate amount of alcohol, as little as 24 U.S. ounces of beer. Further, the sex of the individual the students looked at didn’t matter. Yes, guys will rate guys more attractive and women will rate women more attractive after drinking too, regardless of their normal sexual preferences.

Interestingly enough, this boost in attractiveness is not universal. In a study done at the University of Leicester in 2011, it showed that adults actually find the faces of 10 years old, less attractive when drunk, not more as when looking at adult faces.  Further, these individuals were able to accurately judge the ages of the people whose faces they were looking at pictures of.  So while attractiveness varied based on whether one has been drinking or not, the ability to judge age did not.

In any event, so if it’s truly not just us lowering our standards, what’s going on here to make other adult faces look more attractive? While further research still needs done, the leading theory currently is that it has something to do with bilateral symmetry. This simply means that if a human body was split down the vertical center, humans typically find people more attractive the closer each side of the individual is to being a mirror of the other.

A series of studies, such as one done at the London’s Roehampton University, suggest that alcohol impairs our ability to perceive asymmetry, and this could potentially be the reason for people appearing more attractive when one is under the influence.

The researchers described the experiment thusly:

We tested the hypotheses that acute alcohol consumption decreases ability to detect asymmetry in faces and reduces preference for symmetrical faces over asymmetrical faces. Twenty images of a pair of faces and then 20 images of a single face were displayed on a computer, one at a time. Participants were instructed to state which face of each of the face pairs displayed was most attractive and then whether the single face being displayed was symmetrical or not. Data were collected near campus bars at Roehampton University. Sixty-four self-selecting students who undertook the study were classified as either sober (control) or intoxicated with alcohol. For each face pair or single face displayed, participant response was recorded and details of the alcohol consumption of participants that day were also obtained.

What this boiled down to was that the sober test participants were more drawn to people with symmetrical faces, and were better at picking them out, which supported the researchers’ hypothesis. Further, intoxicated individuals were less able to notice asymmetry. An unexpected discovery was that males proved better than females at determining whether faces were asymmetrical or not. It is theorized that this perhaps has something to do with the fact that, in general, men are more sexually stimulated visually than women are, so whether consciously or not, naturally pay more attention to such things.

The researchers concluded: “The reduced ability of inebriated people to perceive asymmetry may be an important mechanism underlying the higher ratings of facial attractiveness they give for members of the opposite sex and hence their increased frequency of mate choice.”

Interestingly enough, it would seem that beer goggles work both ways. Not only will alcohol make those around you become more attractive to you, it can also turn you into a vision of epic awesomeness… at least in your own mind. (Where have you been your whole life?) That said, the alcohol in this case isn’t strictly necessary; you just need to think you drank some.

Apropos, Laurent Begue at the Pierre Mendes-France University conducted an experiment to explore the phenomenon of The Drunker I Am, The Hotter I Get Syndrome. She asked 19 patrons in a French bar to rate their attractiveness on a scale of one to seven. Their alcohol levels were then measured with a breathalyzer test. Not surprisingly, the participants who were more biffed were also more full of themselves.

That was an extremely limited sample-size, though, so as a follow-up, Begue performed a balanced placebo test with 96 male volunteers. They were told they were conducting market research for fruit cocktail, and that half of the group would be given an alcoholic drink while the other would test the non-alcoholic version. After giving the booze enough time to work its magic, all the guys recorded a fake advertising spot for the fake beverage company. Immediately after, they watched a playback and rated their own wonderfulness.

As alluded to, not just those who had alcohol, but those who believed they had alcohol, gave themselves the best reviews. Those who hadn’t had anything to drink – or had but didn’t know that they had – were the humblest among the bunch. So what have we learned? At least according to this study, in part we feel happier and more attractive after a few cocktails seemingly because we assume that we will be in the first place.

There is a definite downside here though. When a panel of impartial, sober judges took a look-see at the advertising spots, the segments done by the guys that gave themselves top marks were voted the least appealing. That, perhaps, explains why it’s so hard to impress that hot number who just showed up at the bar, when you’ve had more beers than you can count. You need to seek out someone who’s been at it as long as you – and has their outward facing beer goggles on.

So in the end, it would seem from the studies to date that, while it’s not yet fully understood, the “beer goggle” effect is probably real beyond being partially influenced by the simple fact that when your standards and inhibitions are lowered while your libido is increased, you’re going to partner up with those you might not otherwise have. But beyond that, attractiveness based on bilateral symmetry may be coming into play as well, literally making certain people seem more attractive than they otherwise would to you.