The Math Behind Beer Goggles

This isn’t exactly news, the effect known as “beer goggles” — where after a few pints people appear more attractive — was confirmed in 2002 and the mathematical formula was announced in 2005. Whether Matt Damon wrote it out on a hallway blackboard one late night is still not known. But How Stuff Works (under the TLC Cooking imprimatur) has a nice summary of the formula.

The first study I recall seeing was in 2002, and was conducted by the University of Glasgow. Both the BBC and the Daily Collegian had the story. Then, in 2005, researchers at the University of Manchester stumbled upon the formula for how it all works. They also discovered that “alcohol is not really the only factor affecting the drunken perception of beauty. Other factors, according to their research, include:

  • How brightly lit the area is
  • The observer’s eye-sight quality
  • The amount of smoke in the air
  • The distance of the observer from the observed

The formula is laid out below.


Here’s how to decode the formula:

  • An is the number of servings of alcohol
  • d is the distance between the observer and the observed, measured in meters
  • S is the smokiness of the area on a scale of 0 – 10
  • L is the lighting level of the area, measured in candelas per square meter, in which 150 is normal room lightning
  • Vo is Snellen visual acuity, in which 6/6 is normal and 6/12 is the lower limit at which someone is able to drive

The formula works out a “beer goggle” score ranging from 1 to 100+. When ø = 1, the observer is perceiving the same degree of beauty he or she would perceive in a sober state. At 100+, everybody in the room is a perfect 10.

And one last odd finding of the second study. “A nearsighted, sober person who isn’t wearing his or her glasses can experience a beer-goggle effect equivalent to drinking eight pints of beer.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>