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Friday, 13 September 2013

Does Drinking Wine Make You Feel Attractive?

French and American psychologists win an "Ig Nobel" prize from Harvard.

It's common knowledge that drinking wine can alter your perceptions, but could it skew your self-image? Grenoble University's psychology laboratory, which has seriously considered this question, has won an “Ig Nobel” prize for research that “first makes people laugh, and then makes them think."

The study in question, published in May 2012 in the British Journal of Psychology, showed that the more alcohol people drink, the more attractive they think they are – this improved self-perception being due to a placebo effect rather than the pharmacological effects of alcohol.

“In psychology, no French researcher has previously received an Ig Nobel. That made us really laugh when we got the news," said Laurent Bègue, director of Grenoble’s Inter-University Psychology Laboratory (LIP).

Established in 1991 by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research, the Ig Nobels (pronounced "ignoble") are presented annually by actual Nobel laureates at an off-the-wall ceremony organized by Harvard.

Notable recent winners include a team of biologists who had studied the role of fellatio in fruit bats, and French researchers who developed advice for doctors carrying out colonoscopies on how to keep their patients from exploding.

Titled “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beer Holder,” LIP’s experiment on the relationship between drinking and attractiveness was carried out in Grenoble in partnership with the University of Paris-Descartes, the University of Paris-VIII, and the State University of Ohio. Professor Brad Bushman of Ohio said he was honored that his team's work had won an Ig.

"People have long observed that drunk people think others are more attractive, but ours is the first study to find that drinking makes people think they are more attractive themselves," Bushman told the BBC.
Unfortunately, he added, "it was just an illusion in their mind. Although people may think they become more attractive when they become intoxicated, other [sober] people don't think that."

To conduct the survey, researchers first approached 19 drinkers in a Grenoble bar and asked them to note on a scale of 1 to 7 at what point they saw themselves as attractive, intelligent, original and witty.  Their blood alcohol levels were then measured with a breathalyzer. The research team concluded that the higher an individual’s blood-alcohol level, the more that person saw him or herself as attractive.

In a second stage, 94 men, recruited through a public notice in the regional daily Dauphiné Libéré, were invited to the laboratory to test a drink for a fictitious company called Stataliment. In the blind test, some of the participants were served an alcoholic drink, while others were served one that was alcohol-free,. Some participants thus consumed alcohol equivalent to 1 gram per liter of blood, while others who thought they were drinking alcohol were in fact drinking fruit juice.

The drinkers were then subjected to the same type of evaluation as that which was carried out in the first experiment. Those who thought they had drunk alcohol, whether they’d really done so or not, regarded themselves as the most attractive. In contrast, those who had unknowingly drunk alcohol did not up their personal ratings.

“This might seem anecdotal, but in reality it raises some real research questions,” says Bègue. He believes the study has shown that “alcohol cannot be reduced to its pharmacological aspects."

The study enables better targeting of prevention messages on the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption. “Everyone believes that alcohol is a disinhibitor and increases confidence. Calling these beliefs into question has consequences for the consumer,” Bègue added.

Source: www.wine-searcher.com