Alcohol as Social Lubricant: Alcohol Myopia Theory, Social Self-Esteem, and Social Interaction
This study examines how consuming alcohol differentially affects the communicative behavior and perceptions of high and low social self-esteem (SSE) women as they engage in a brief interaction with a flirtatious male. Alcohol myopia theory proposes that alcohol affects behavior when it blocks a person's normal inhibitions about enacting a behavior. It was predicted that low SSE women would be more inhibited when talking to a flirtatious male than would high SSE women and, therefore administration of a social self-esteem measure and random assignment to an alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverage condition, participants (N=50) talked with an attractive, flirtatious male confederate. Low SSE women were less anxious and self-disclosed more when drinking than when sober, whereas high SSE women were not significantly affected by alcohol consumption. The discussion highlights the complex and often contradictory effects of alcohol consumption on social interaction.