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A Dynamic Analysis of the Effects of Alcohol on Perceptions of Physical Attractiveness

Bowdring, Molly (2021) A Dynamic Analysis of the Effects of Alcohol on Perceptions of Physical Attractiveness. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Background and Significance. Perception of physical attractiveness (PPA) is a fundamental aspect of human relationships and a promising factor to study to understand both alcohol’s rewarding and harmful effects. Yet PPA is rarely studied in relation to alcohol, and when it is tested, approaches are often sub-optimal. The present study applied psychological theories and methods not previously used in alcohol research to test a variety of questions central to understanding alcohol’s effects on PPA. Methods. Dyads of platonic same-gender friends (n = 36) attended two lab sessions, wherein their drink conditions (alcohol vs. no-alcohol control) were randomized by dyad and counter-balanced across sessions. After consuming a portion of their beverages together, subjects completed a PPA task using a Likert scale. Results. While alcohol enhanced positive ( = 0.26, p < .001) and decreased negative ( = -0.10, p < .001) mood, there was no effect of perceiver ( = -0.04, p = .69) or target ( = 0.03, p = .78) drink condition on PPA. There were significant interaction effects between orientation-match (whether targets were of the gender to which the perceiver was sexually oriented) and both perceiver- ( = 0.07, p < .001) and target-drink condition ( = 0.05, p < .001), respectively, on PPA. There were not moderating effects of stimulus format (i.e., smiling vs. neutral expression faces, dynamic vs. static images) or sexual-desire alcohol expectancies on the alcohol-PPA relation. Conclusion. This study sought to examine the impact of alcohol on PPA and identify factors that might moderate this potential effect. Methodological constraints may have hampered observation of anticipated effects. Future research incorporating more naturalistic methods including studies that enable participants and targets to interact may clarify the role of PPA in alcohol’s hazardous and socially rewarding effects.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bowdring, Mollymab446@pitt.edumab4460000-0001-5115-274X
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSayette,
Committee MemberWright,
Committee MemberForest,
Committee MemberCreswell,
Committee MemberInagaki,
Date: 8 October 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 20 July 2020
Approval Date: 8 October 2021
Submission Date: 21 July 2020
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 119
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alcohol, drinking, perception, physical attractiveness, social
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2021 20:20
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2023 05:15


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