In a double-blind, random-order, cross-over study, researchers enlisted 60 healthy participants (30 men, 30 women) aged between 18 and 50.
30 participants were each given a glass of alcoholic beer (0.5L depending on body weight and sex).
This raised their blood alcohol content to around 0.4 g/L while 30 control subjects were given non-alcoholic beer.
The subjects then underwent a range of tasks, including a face recognition test, empathy test, and sexual arousal test.
At the end of the tests, the 30 participants and control subjects were switched and the process was repeated.
The main results found were that:
· Drinking beer helps people see happy faces faster.
· It also increased the tendency to want to be with others in a happy social situation
· These effects were greater in women than in men but were also greater in those who had previously shown some social inhibition
· It made it easier for people (especially women) to view explicit sexual images, but it didn’t seem to lead to greater sexual arousal
The researchers also found that ‘before and after’ levels of the hormone oxytocin did not change. (Oxytocin is thought to mediate aspects of social cognition and is involved in bonding).
So, if you’ve always wanted to be a social bird but never had the stomach for it, maybe a bottle of beer or a tall glass of wine isn’t so bad.