A glass of beer can make people more sociable says a study conducted by researchers from Switzerland. The team of researchers from University Hospital in Basel tested 60 healthy people, with an equal number of men and women drinking alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer.
The participants took part in a range of tasks such as face recognition test, empathy test, and sexual arousal test.
‘Volunteers who drank alcoholic beer had a desire to be with others, in a happy and open environment. The desire was more in women than men.’
Prof Matthias Liechti, the lead researcher, said, "There had been little previous research in this area. Although many people drink beer and know its effects from personal experience, there is surprisingly little scientific data on its effects on the processing of social emotional information."
The desire to be with others in an open environment was high among those who drank alcoholic beer, and it was more in women and those with higher initial inhibitions.
The desire to be with others, in a happy, talkative and open environment increased in the group which drank the alcoholic beer and was more marked in women and those with higher initial inhibitions.
Participants who drank beer were more likely to recognize happy faces, and the emotional empathy was increased, particularly in those with lower levels of initial empathy.
When the participants were shown pictures of explicit sexual content, those who drank non-alcoholic beer rated them as less pleasant than neutral pictures - but they were rated as more pleasant by those who drank alcoholic beer. This was most marked in the women participants, but researches found it did not actually enhance sexual arousal.
Prof Wim van den Brink, past chairman of the ECNP scientific program committee, said, "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."
He also pointed out that "alcohol-related emotions and cognitions as studied are not always consistent with actual behaviors."
The study is published in the journal Psychopharmacology.