Beer can make a good time even better, but recently researchers from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology investigated just how alcohol adjusts our perception, and revealed that it affects our ability to recognize other people's emotions, and also has an effect on our attitude toward sexual materials.

According to the recent research, drinking beer helps people see happy faces faster, and increases their desire to want to be with others in a fun social situation. These effects were seen in a greater degree in women than in men, although this is likely due to differences between the genders in alcohol consumption and body mass. In addition, beer makes it easier for people, especially women, to view sexually explicit material, although it does not lead to greater sexual arousal. The results were published in the peer-reviewed journal Psychopharmacology, according to a statement.

According to the researchers, the findings help to confirm what you’ve most likely already observed from your own experience with alcohol: Drinking can lubricate social situations and when used in moderation, it makes people happier, more social, and less sexually inhibited.

“These effects of alcohol on social cognition likely enhance sociability." explained lead researcher, Professor Matthias Liechti in a recent statement.

To find these results, the team recruited 60 healthy volunteers (30 men and 30 women) aged 18 to 50, and gave half an alcoholic beer and the other half a non-alcoholic beer. They then gave 30 of them a full glass of alcoholic beer (0.5L depending on body weight and sex). The volunteers next completed a range of tasks, including a face recognition test, empathy test, and sexual arousal test. At the end of the tests, the subjects and controls were switched and the process repeated.

Interestingly, drinking alcohol was not associated with any changes in levels of oxytocin. This is a hormone associated with happiness and bonding with others, and the lack of changes in oxytocin levels suggests that the beer’s bonding effect lies elsewhere.

Source: Liechti M, et al. Drinking beer helps us see happy faces faster. European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP). 2016

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