Study finds the mere presence of alcohol is enough to make women appear more sexually available

December 11, 2014, Deakin University

With office Christmas party season in full swing a new Deakin University study provides a timely reminder of the role alcohol plays in unwanted sexual advances.

According to the research simply sitting next to a beer is enough for a woman to be considered sexually available. The results have implications for understanding how might contribute to sexual assault.

Deakin School of Psychology researchers examined whether the mere presence of alcohol could be used as a sexual cue. They found that men were more likely to perceive a woman sitting alongside a bottle of alcohol, not even actually drinking it, as being seductive, promiscuous or flirtatious.

"The role alcohol plays in the processing of sexual information, and sexual harm, is complex," said Dr Eric Koukounas, the lead researcher on the study.

"We know from previous studies that people who drink alcohol are perceived to be more sexually available than those who abstain, and that men see women who are drinking as more likely to consent to sex. Approximately half of all are also associated with either the perpetrator and/or the victim having consumed alcohol.

"While research is pointing to exposure to alcohol as playing a significant role in how sexual information is processed, relatively little investigation has been made into how the simple presence of alcohol placement influences perceptions or behaviour."

The study involved 147 sexually experienced men and women who were shown a video of a social interaction between a man and woman depicted with a bottle of water or alcohol. The participants were asked to rate the woman on sexual intent ie seductiveness, promiscuity and flirtatiousness.

"The study didn't just find that it was men finding women attractive, or that it was just that alcohol made people in general more attractive, it revealed that men perceived greater sexual intent in the woman in the video when depicted with the alcohol than with the bottle of water," said study co-investigator Associate Professor Peter Miller.

"These findings have implications for understanding how alcohol might contribute to sexual assault and also point to the need for further research on the relationship between how might reinforce negative sexual beliefs toward women.

"That the mere imagery of alcohol in a social context can influence sexual beliefs toward women points to a need to explore whether many of the strategies used by media and advertising organisations are in fact perpetuating conditions in which misperceive integral cues and whether this leads to potential sexual violence." The study, 'The effect of gender and alcohol placement in the processing of sexual intent', is published in the online, early view section of the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

Explore further: Intoxication important in determining when some men commit sexual aggression

More information: "The effect of gender and alcohol placement in the processing of sexual intent." Drug and Alcohol Review DOI: 10.1111/dar.12214

Related Stories

Intoxication important in determining when some men commit sexual aggression

September 7, 2011
A new review article published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review assesses the extent to which alcohol plays a causal role in sexual assault perpetration. Results found that men who are already prone to anger, who have ...

Study identifies risk factors for sexual assault, including age and alcohol consumption

October 15, 2014
Risk factors for sexual assault, including young age and alcohol consumption, must be addressed when considering preventative strategies, suggests a new study, published today (15 October) in BJOG: An International Journal ...

Women in military less likely to drink than civilian women

July 31, 2014
While it is known that members of the U.S. military overall are more likely to use alcohol, a new study finds that female enlistees and female veterans are actually less likely to drink than their civilian counterparts. This ...

Past sexual assault triples risk of future assault for college women

August 29, 2014
Disturbing news for women on college campuses: a new study from the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) indicates that female college students who are victims of sexual assault are at a much higher ...

High alcohol intake linked to heightened HPV infection risk in men

October 2, 2014
A high alcohol intake is linked to a heightened risk of human papillomavirus infection among men, suggests research in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections. The findings seem to be independent of other risk factors ...

Researchers analyze AUDs, sexual behavior among South African men

June 21, 2014
In a study of South African men who drink alcohol in informal drinking environments or "shebeens," researchers from The Miriam Hospital have found a high prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) that directly correlates to ...

Recommended for you

WHO recognises 'compulsive sexual behaviour' as mental disorder

July 15, 2018
The World Health Organization has recognised "compulsive sexual behaviour" as a mental disorder, but said Saturday it remained unclear if it was an addiction on a par with gambling or drug abuse.

How looking at the big picture can lead to better decisions

July 13, 2018
New research suggests how distancing yourself from a decision may help you make the choice that produces the most benefit for you and others affected.

Nature is proving to be awesome medicine for PTSD

July 13, 2018
The awe we feel in nature can dramatically reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to UC Berkeley research that tracked psychological and physiological changes in war veterans and at-risk inner-city youth ...

Is depression during pregnancy on the rise?

July 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Today's young mothers-to-be may be more likely to develop depression while pregnant than their own mothers were, a new study suggests.

Machine learning helps to predict the treatment outcomes of schizophrenia

July 12, 2018
Could the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders one day be aided through the help of machine learning? New research from the University of Alberta is bringing us closer to that future through a study published ...

Mental illness study to explore patients' self-assessments

July 12, 2018
As the mental health community pursues new ways to improve the lives of the severely ill, a University of Texas at Dallas researcher is focusing on what can be learned from patients' answers to a simple question: "How do ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.