The concept of beer goggles is not a myth. According to a Springer study, men under the influence of alcohol are more likely to see women as sexual objects. The study explored some of the circumstances and factors that influence why men objectify women.
The study involved 49 men in their twenties and was conducted in the safe space of a college laboratory. Of the 49 subjects, 29 received two alcoholic drinks to mildly intoxicate them, and the rest received placebo drinks.
All were shown photographs of 80 undergraduate women dressed to go out, and were asked to rate the women’s appearances and personality. The women’s photos were previously rated by an independent panel on how much warmth, good-naturedness, friendliness, competence, intelligence, confidence, and attractiveness they exuded.
Eye-tracking technology noted which part of the women’s bodies men were looking at when they were shown the images. When the men assessed a photographed woman based on her appearance, the instruction most often triggered objectifying gazes from them.
They spent less time looking at faces and focused far longer on chests and waists. This was particularly true when viewing women who had been rated high in attractiveness. It happened to a lesser degree when viewing women who exuded warmth and competence, especially when men were slightly drunk.
The findings suggested that whether a man will sexually objectify a woman depends on the alcohol intoxication of the man, as well as how attractive, warm and competent a woman is perceived to be.
“The sum of these results supports the notion that being perceived as high in humanizing attributes, such as warmth and competence, or being average in attractiveness provides a buffer that protects women from sexual objectification,” said Abigail Riemer, study lead author.
“Environments in which alcohol is present are ripe with opportunities for objectifying gazes,” added Riemer, who said that the only other study previously done on the link between alcohol and objectification by men relied on self-reports from women.
“Adopting objectifying gazes toward women leads perceivers to dehumanize women, potentially laying the foundation for many negative consequences such as sexual violence and workplace gender discrimination.”
The study appears in the journal Sex Roles.
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