One tequila, two tequila, three tequila…more bad decisions. Scientists have discovered the neurochemical explanation behind “beer goggles,” also known as the lowering of inhibitions after drinking copious amounts of alcohol.
Recent research from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology suggested drinking alcohol affected our ability to perceive other people’s emotions and allowed us to view sexually explicit material in a more positive light, especially for women. In other words, after a few cocktails, you’re more likely to notice and respond to happy faces and lower your sexual inhibitions.
“These effects of alcohol on social cognition likely enhance sociability," explained lead researcher, Professor Matthias Liechti.
The study recruited 60 men and women between the ages of 18 and 50; half of the group received half of a beer, and the rest received an entire beer. The researchers then recorded facial recognition, empathy, and sexual arousal. Oxytocin and arousal levels were surprisingly stagnant, but facial recognition levels changed the most. Subjects who drank an entire beer were able to recognize happy faces faster, and female subjects were able to view sexually explicit content more easily.
The conclusion is something we’ve suspected all along: “Alcohol is a social lubricant and moderate use makes people happier,” Liechti’s colleague, Professor Wim van den Brink, said.