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Booze doesn’t alter age perception in men

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Drinking alcohol doesn’t affect men’s ability to guess a woman’s age.

This is one the findings of a new study by Vincent Egan published 20 April in the British Journal of Psychology.

Men accused of having unlawful sex with a minor can claim on ‘reasonable grounds’ they were not aware that the girl was underage. Other factors that may influence his perception would also be taken into account, such as how much alcohol he had drunk or how much make-up the girl was wearing.

This study sought to ascertain if these factors (alcohol and make-up) would alter people’s perceptions women’s ages by asking 240 people to look at photos of women and then comment on their age and attractiveness. All the participants were heterosexual, aged between 18 and 70 with an equal split between men and women. Half of the participants had consumed alcohol before the task.

The participants looked at photographs of ten young women (aged 17). Some of the photographs were digitally altered to give the faces a younger or older appearance and in both some make-up was applied digitally.

The results showed that drinking alcohol and use of make-up had a minimal effect on the men’s perception of the ages of the photographed women.

Dr Egan said: "This study suggests that alcohol consumption and make-up use do not interfere with how old we perceive someone to be. Another interesting finding was that overall participants who drank alcohol actually rated all the women in the photos as less attractive (compared to the participants who hadn’t drunk alcohol). This seemingly flies in the face of the commonly held notion of ‘beer goggles’."

(Source: British Journal of Psychology: April 2009)

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Posted On: 21 April, 2009
Modified On: 16 January, 2014

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