Individuals rate opposite sex faces as more attractive after consuming or being primed with alcohol. However, other traits such as intelligence and likeability have not been examined and might vary as a function of information about one's drinking habits. We expected social drinkers to be rated more positively than heavy drinkers, abstainers, or recovering alcoholics. We further hypothesized that faces with similar drinking habits to participants would be rated as more appealing.
Five hundred ninety-four undergraduates viewed 25 opposite sex faces randomly paired with drinking information, and rated each face on perceived appeal.
Hierarchical linear models revealed that social drinkers were rated as most appealing, as expected. Unexpectedly, recovering alcoholics were rated as the next most appealing, followed by abstainers, then heavy drinkers. The interaction between drinker type and participants' own drinking predicting ratings indicated that the heavier the participant drinks, the more favorably they rated heavy drinkers compared to other types of drinkers. Thus, as expected, ratings varied as a function of participants' own drinking; however, ratings did not vary as a function of participants' alcohol-related problems.
Findings support hypotheses in that social drinkers were generally perceived as appealing compared to other drinker types, and ratings tended to be influenced by participants' own drinking. Individuals' prototypes and norms regarding drinking may influence how they perceive others when others' drinking habits are known. This might be especially important to consider with heavy drinkers who may seek out others who drink similarly, which could reinforce problematic drinking.