Exposure to Alcohol-Related Words Increases Men’s Sex Drive

Many men who have consumed alcohol while on dates or at parties know it can have a significant impact on their night. Sometimes a few drinks can make them more sociable or fuel their sexual arousal, while other times it can make them sick, tired and unable to perform sexually. It also can produce what are called “beer goggles,” which causes people who are intoxicated to judge others as more attractive than they are. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have found that just the mere exposure to words that describe alcohol can increase the male sex drive.

“This research shows that even if men aren’t drinking alcohol but are merely exposed to alcohol-related cues, those who expect that alcohol will make them want sex will rate women as more attractive,” said Ronald Friedman, assistant professor of psychology at MU. “In other words, we propose to have found a case of ‘automatic beer goggling.’”

Friedman and Denis McCarthy, an assistant professor of psychology at MU, examined 82 males ranging in age from 18 to 27. First, the subjects answered questionnaires that asked whether they thought alcohol affected their sex drive. Afterward, the men were divided into two groups and placed next to computers. One group was shown words that described alcohol, such as liquor, beer and keg. The other group saw words like water, soda and coffee.

Then, the men were presented with a series of 21 photographs of a variety of women with a diverse range of facial features and from a variety of racial groups. The participants in one condition were asked to indicate how attractive they found each woman on a nine-point scale. Men in another condition had to identify how intelligent each woman looked on the same scale.

The researchers found that the group of men who expected alcohol to enhance their sex drive found the women in the photos more attractive after viewing the alcohol cue words. The group that expected alcohol to reduce their sex drive found the women to be less attractive. However, Friedman said the alcohol cue words had no impact on rating the intelligence of the women in the photos.

What we found so surprising about the results was that just viewing words related to alcohol can influence a man’s perception of a female,” Friedman said. “What is worrisome is that these expectations we have about alcohol, as well as drugs, can be activated with little or no awareness.”

The study will be published in the May issue of Addiction.

From University of Missouri – Columbia

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