In moderation, alcohol can enrich our lives and our society. Unfortunately most of the money dedicated to alcohol research is allocated to understanding the problems of overindulgence, as the negatives that come with it are easily quantifiable. Recently this stigma shifted. Some researchers are curious as to why alcohol has been a cornerstone of virtually every human society if overconsumption carries such negative side effects. Basically, they want to confirm what many of us suspect — that alcohol works as a social lubricant and allows us to act on desires that are suppressed by spurious social norms.
Below are examples of 10 scientific studies that help illuminate the complicated relationship between alcohol, sex and love. So, the next time an uptight asshole says something like, "I don't need alcohol to have a good time," or they go off on the negative effects of overindulgence, you will have scientific studies that point to the evidence that, in moderation, alcohol plays an important role in facilitating romantic and fraternal relationships.
Alcohol as a social lubricant: Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol in a group boosts social bonding. It also increases the time people spend talking to each other and the frequency that the group smiles together. Moderate drinking can also minimize negative emotions — or at least reduce visual displays of negative emotions.
"Alcohol and Group Formation: A Multimodal Investigation of the Effects of Alcohol on Emotion and Social Bonding." Psychological Science, 2012.*Red wine and romance
: Women who regularly drink moderate amounts of red wine report more sexual desire, more vaginal lubrication, and higher overall sexual function compared to women who do not drink at all.
"Regular Moderate Intake of Red Wine is Linked to a Better Women's Sexual Health." The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2009.*Alcohol fuels female's libido
: Small amounts of alcohol can cause a temporary surge in testosterone in women, which boosts their libido
. The effect is most pronounced in women taking hormonal birth control
“Acute Effect of Alcohol on Androgens in Premenopausal Women.” Nature, 2000.*Happiness is sex and alcohol
: Sex and drinking/partying ranked number 1 and 2 out of 30 human behaviors that make people happy. By comparison, meditating/religious activities ranked 4th while childcare/playing with children ranked 5th.
This study was conducted by Carsten Grimm at University of Canterbury in New Zealand.*The science of beer goggles
. Most humans are attracted to symmetrical faces, as body symmetry is a sign of superior genetics. Alcohol impairs our ability to judge facial symmetry, allowing us to be more attracted to faces we might otherwise find unappealing. This beer goggles effect is more pronounced in women, possibly because men's sexual arousal is much more dependent on visual stimulation.
“An Explanation for Enhanced Perceptions of Attractiveness after Alcohol Consumption.” Alcohol, 2010.*Alcohol, caffeine and casual sex mix well
: College students who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks are more likely to report having a casual partner and/or being intoxicated during their most recent sexual encounter. Researches suspect this is because caffeine makes it more difficult for drinkers to judge their level of intoxication. The study also showed that consumption of caffeinated alcohol drinks was not associated with increased rates of unprotected sex.
This study was conducted by Kathleen E. Miller and published in the Journal of Caffeine Research in 2012.*Pavlovian beer goggles
: Men who were shown alcohol-related words like "beer," rated pictures of women as much more sexually attractive than a control group who were shown words unrelated to alcohol.
"Automatic Effects of Alcohol Cues on Sexual Attraction." Addiction, 2004.*Beer makes you bisexual
: Increased exposure to alcohol is linked with increased male-on-male sexual acts, at least in fruit flies. This same experiment also confirmed that alcohol increases sexual arousal but reduces sexual performance, at least in fruit flies.
"Recurring Ethanol Exposure Induces Disinhibited Courtship in Drosophila." PLoS ONE, 2008.*Alcohol as a substitute for sex
: When deprived of sex, male fruit flies turn increasingly to alcohol as a physiological reward.
"Sexual Deprivation Increases Ethanol Intake in Drosophila." Science, 2012. *Couples who drink together, stay together
: The effects of drinking on relationships is more positive when small amounts are consumed, when partners drink together, when partners consume similar amounts, and for women. In comparison to men, women drink more often in response to relationship difficulties and when they feel disconnected from their partner.
"Daily Alcohol Use and Romantic Relationship Functioning: Evidence of Bidirectional, Gender-, and Context- Specific Effects." The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2010.
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