University of Nebraska Research Examines How Intoxication Affects How Men Look at Women

A new study led by Abigail R. Riemer, a graduate student in social psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, finds that as the level of intoxication increases, men spend less time looking at the faces of women  and more time examining other parts of their bodies.

The researchers invited a large group of men to the laboratory. Half of the participants were given drinks of orange juice and grain alcohol until they were determined to be intoxicated. The control group was given drinks that looked and smelled the same but had very low amounts of alcohol. The participants were then given full-body photographs of 80 college-age women who were dressed to go to a party or a bar. Using eye-tracking technology, the researchers were able to determine how much time the participants spent looking at the faces of women versus other parts of their bodies. The participants who were intoxicated spent less time looking at faces and more time looking at other parts of the their bodies than the sober control group.

The study tested how “alcohol myopia” – a theory that intoxication limits the amount of information people can process, narrowing their perceptions to the most provoking stimuli – interrelates with sexual objectification. The study could offer insights on how to prevent sexually aggressive behavior, particularly in situations where alcohol is being used, said Riemer and her co-authors. Party culture often is an element of sexual misconduct issues faced on college campuses – and alcohol use may factor into many of the sexual harassment and sexual assault incidents on college campuses.

The study, “Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder: An Initial Investigation of the Effects of Alcohol, Attractiveness, Warmth, and Competence on the Objectifying Gaze in Men,” was published on the website of the journal Sex Roles. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


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