Scientists have confirmed what most of us have known since our very first night out: alcohol makes people more sociable and less embarrassed about sex.
For the study, the researchers recruited 60 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 50 and gave half of them a half litre glass of alcoholic beer. The remaining participants were given non-alcoholic beer.
They found that those who had consumed alcohol were more attracted to happy faces and social situations than those who had not.
They also concluded that alcohol made people feel less shy about viewing sexually explicit images – particularly women.
During the study, the volunteers were asked to perform a range of tasks including a face recognition test, an empathy test and a sexual arousal test.
The researchers found that drinking beer had no effect on levels of the hormone oxytocin, which is thought to act as a “social lubricant” and assist bonding between individuals.
However, it did appear to lessen inhibitions around socialising and viewing sexual images.
According to PA, lead researcher Professor Matthias Liechti, from Basel University Hospital in Switzerland, 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.”
Professor Wim van den Brink, from the University of Amsterdam, added: “This is an interesting study confirming conventional wisdom that alcohol is a social lubricant and that moderate use of alcohol makes people happier, more social and less inhibited when it comes to sexual engagement.
“The sex differences in the findings can either be explained by differences in blood alcohol concentration between males and females with the same alcohol intake, differences in tolerance due to differences in previous levels of alcohol consumption or by socio-cultural factors.”
The research was presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) annual meeting in Vienna and also appears in the journal Psychopharmacology.