Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Barely Legal: Alcohol Does Not Appear To Affect Perceptions Of Age

Date:
April 21, 2009
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
A new study led by the University of Leicester has demonstrated that consuming alcohol did not affect how men judged the age of women. This has important legal implications if alcohol is cited as a cause of impairing judgment in cases of unlawful sex with a minor.

A new study led by the University of Leicester has demonstrated that consuming alcohol did not affect how men judged the age of women. This has important legal implications if alcohol is cited as a cause of impairing judgement in cases of unlawful sex with a minor.

The research in the University of Leicester School of Psychology by Professor Vince Egan and Giray Cordan of the University of Exeter finds that young females are typically viewed as being older than they actually are, but having consumed even large amounts of alcohol does not lead a man to think they look even older. Their study concludes: "Our study suggests that even heavy alcohol consumption does not interfere with age-perception tasks in men, so does not excuse apparent mistaken sex in cases of unlawful sex with a minor."

The researchers surveyed 240 people in bars and cafes and asked them to rate attractiveness of underage and mature females with and without makeup. Ten female faces were produced graphically using custom developed software to decrease and increase age, representing sexually immature and mature faces.

The study found:

  • Attractiveness ratings of minors (immature faces) were not affected by alcohol or make-up compared to more mature faces.
  • Both men and women found minors (immature faces) more attractive than sexually mature faces
  • Alcohol had a 'significant' impact on making older faces with lots of make-up appear more attractive
  • Alcohol had no effect on how old men thought women were
  • Make-up influenced attractiveness levels when viewers had consumed alcohol –especially if the faces were sexually mature

Professor Egan said: "One 'reasonable ground' for unlawful sex with a minor is mistaken age. Alcohol consumption and adult make-up are often deemed further influences on impaired perception.

"Lay psychology would hypothesize that the greater the amount of alcohol consumed by the observer, the younger the age-estimate and higher the rated attractiveness of the observed face

"We found that while alcohol consumption significantly inflated attractiveness ratings for participants looking at sexually mature faces with high levels of make-up, greater alcohol consumption itself did not lead to overestimation of age.

"Consumed alcohol had no effect on men estimating the age of either mature or immature faces."

The researchers added that, on average, the participants overestimated the ages of the faces they saw –in line with previous research which reveals an overestimation of age by 2.5 years.

"This provides further ecological validity when it is noted that many major supermarkets stipulate that a person must look at least 21 years of age before the sale of alcohol is permitted on the premises.

"Despite the fact that exact age accuracy levels are difficult to determine, the study shows that make-up and alcohol have minimal effects upon male perceptions of age, and that both genders (regardless of age and alcohol consumed) are significantly likely to over-inflate age estimations."

The authors conclude that the study highlights the 'extremely strong influence' of immature faces on attractiveness judgements.

Placed into its forensic context, this study tentatively concludes that alcohol consumption and make-up use do not interfere with age-perception tasks, nor inflate subsequent age estimates.

It also concludes that given the number of other indications as to a person's age (for example build and voice), there are many cues to indicate that a person is older than they appear, so males who are meeting females socially are potentially quite able to infer if someone is under age, though they may chose to not do so.

The research was conducted in pubs, but has not explored whether these findings can be repeated in conditions that more closely replicate nightclubs or discos with the more restricted and erratic lighting conditions of those places. This is planned for a further study.

The research is due to be published in the British Journal of Psychology in June 2009.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "Barely Legal: Alcohol Does Not Appear To Affect Perceptions Of Age." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090420103553.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2009, April 21). Barely Legal: Alcohol Does Not Appear To Affect Perceptions Of Age. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090420103553.htm
University of Leicester. "Barely Legal: Alcohol Does Not Appear To Affect Perceptions Of Age." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090420103553.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins