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Research finds beer goggles don't affect sigh -

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Research finds beer goggles don't affect sight

Reporter: Nicole Butler

PETER CAVE: So called 'beer goggles' have been blamed for transgressions the world over, not to
mention the odd very uncomfortable breakfast.

But now a UK study has found that getting drunk doesn't affect a person's ability to judge ages and
shouldn't be used as a defence in underage sex crimes.

Nicole Butler reports.

NICOLE BUTLER: Looking at the world through 'beer goggles' - the phrase used to explain poor
judgement after too many drinks.

In particular, alcohol myopia is said to transform unattractive people into beauties - until the
morning after.

And being drunk is often used as an excuse for underage sex acts.

British forensic psychologist Vincent Egan took to venues in Scotland to test the beer goggle
theory.

VINCENT EGAN: We got 240 people out in the field in bars and cafes.

We saw 120 who were sober and 120 who had been drinking.

And we've asked them to do two things: firstly, to say how attractive the face was; and secondly,
to say how old they thought the face was.

NICOLE BUTLER: To delve deeper, Dr Egan and his team also digitally manipulated the photo of a
teenager on their laptop.

VINCENT EGAN: Well, the girls were originally 17-years-old, and they were morphed to look like they
were 15 up to 19.

So, from being girlish to being womanly.

NICOLE BUTLER: And the results of the beer goggle test?

VINCE EGAN: We found that alcohol basically didn't influence things as much as you might have
thought.

NICOLE BUTLER: Especially when it comes to guessing a person's age.

VINCE EGAN: We found that alcohol consumption did inflate attractiveness ratings, but the greater
alcohol consumption didn't lead to the overestimation of age.

NICOLE BUTLER: Dr Egan says there was no difference in age estimates between the drinkers and those
abstaining.

VINCENT EGAN: I thought I'd get a, more of a beer goggles effect than we got.

But then, the god of drunks is a very powerful person.

An you think how drunks do manage to walk home, and they can give quiet conversations.

So, perhaps alcohol doesn't always impair some sensory mechanisms, but it may affect other kinds of
mental processes.

NICOLE BUTLER: Dr Egan says his research suggests men who have sex with underage girls shouldn't be
able to use alcohol as a defence.

Paul Wilson is a high profile criminologist and forensic psychologist in Queensland.

PAUL WILSON: I don't think this study on its own will knock out the mitigating factor of beer
goggles, somehow excusing the person for a crime.

I think the criminal courts generally recognise that being under the influence of alcohol is not an
excuse for committing a serious crime.

However, I think the courts certainly will have to consider each individual case because in some
cases, it may well be that whether you're drunk or sober, you can't tell the age of a girl.

PETER CAVE: Professor Paul Wilson ending Nicole Butler's report.