Study Says One Glass of Wine Makes You Hotter

By May Wilkerson 03/05/15

A recent study from the University of Bristol sheds light on this theory.

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Most of us know that a few drinks can make other people seem more attractive, or funny, or charming, hence the term “beer goggles.” But can alcohol also make the drinker themselves look hotter?

According to a new study, having one drink—vs. two, or none—could make you more physically attractive to others. In the study, 40 students at the UK’s University of Bristol were photographed three times: after zero, one and two drinks. Then a separate group of students (all completely sober) compared the photographs side-by-side and rated how attractive they found the subjects.

The photos of those who’d consumed one drink (about a glass of wine) were rated more attractive than those who were sober, or had two drinks or more.

“[The study] suggests that, if it's true, people are rated as more attractive once they've consumed a small amount of alcohol," said the study's lead researcher, Marcus Munafò, a professor of biological psychology at the University of Bristol. "But if they go on to consume more alcohol, they're no longer rated as more attractive."

But why would drinking a single glass of wine make you hotter? Researchers can’t say for sure, but they have some theories.

It’s possible that the subjects’ pupils were more dilated after one drink, a trait that is often perceived as positive. Or, the drinkers may have seemed slightly more relaxed (and therefore happier) after one drink, whereas two drinks verged on too relaxed (and therefore sloppier). Another possibility is that a single glass of booze enhanced the complexion just enough to making the cheeks slightly rosy, without reddening the face (not sexy).

"The people who had consumed a small amount of alcohol had a slightly rosier complexion" said Munafò. "Rosiness is attractive because it characterizes good physical health characteristics."

But alcohol’s benefits, according to this study, are superficial. The findings don’t necessarily mean alcohol is healthy. "What it means is that alcohol is sort of hijacking that mechanism, or promoting the aspects of facial features that we regard as attractive for other reasons,” Munafó said.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.