Drinking a glass of beer makes us friendlier, happier and more sociable in the company of others. It affects the way we see specific emotions and makes us recognise happy faces faster. What’s more,
downing a glass of beer makes us less embarrassed about sex!
These are the findings of a recently released study by researchers at the University Hospital in Basel in Switzerland.
In a double-blind, random study, the researchers compared the impact of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer on healthy men and women and found drinking alcoholic beer made the participants more social, happier, and less sexually inhibited.
“Although many people drink beer and know its effects through personal experience there is surprisingly little scientific data on its effects on the processing of emotional social information,” said lead researcher Prof Matthias Liechti, from Basel University Hospital in Switzerland.
In order to come up with the conclusion, researchers recruited 60 healthy people (30 men, 30 women), aged between 18 and 50. Half of the volunteers were given a half litre glass of alcoholic beer, while the remaining half were given non-alcoholic beer.
Half of the participants were randomly assigned to drink a full glass of alcoholic beer (0.5L) to elevate their blood alcohol level to about 0.4 grams per liter. The remaining half downed a nonalcoholic brew.
Before and after, all the participants completed various tasks, including a face recognition test as well as empathy test and sexual arousal test. After completion of the tests, the subjects and controls switched their roles and repeated the process.
The researchers found that people who consumed a drink or two were more eager to be connected with people in a happy and open environment. These people were attracted to happy faces more than those who consumed non-alcoholic beer. This was especially marked in women and in those who had been more inhibited socially, the findings showed.
Drinking alcoholic beer not only enabled the volunteers to recognise happy faces more quickly but also enhanced their emotional empathy, and made it easier for volunteers, especially women, to view sexually explicit images. These volunteers rated explicit sexual images as more pleasant than neutral pictures.
Conversely, those who downed non-alcoholic beer rated the pictures of explicit sexual content as less pleasant than neutral pictures.
However, it didn’t appear to lead to enhanced sexual arousal.
Prof Liechti said: “We found that drinking a glass of beer helps people see happy faces faster, and enhances concern for positive emotional situations. Alcohol also facilitates the viewing of sexual images, consistent with disinhibition, but it does not actually enhance sexual arousal.
“These effects of alcohol on social cognition likely enhance sociability.”
The results were presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) annual meeting in Vienna and also published in the peer-reviewed journal Psychopharmacology.