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Nicotine enhances perceived attractiveness of faces in non-dependent smokers

Attwood et al.(1, pdf) investigated how nicotine affects the perceived attractiveness of faces among light smokers, i.e., those not dependent on nicotine.  They had pictures of the faces of young adult men and young adult women judged for attractiveness by lightly smoking male and female college students who had been asked to not smoke for the past day.  Compliance with this requirement was tested by examining the level of carbon monoxide exhaled by the participants before the test.  When the participants were tested, they were either given a regular cigarette to smoke or a nicotine-free cigarette and then they were asked to rate the attractiveness of faces as well as answer some questions about their mood and how irritable they felt.  Neither the participants nor those who administered the tests knew which participant had gotten what kind of cigarette.

The authors found that the judges, both men and women, rated faces more attractive after smoking the nicotine-containing cigarettes.  Only 57% of the participants had correctly guessed that they received nicotine-containing cigarettes, which was not statistically significantly different from a random guess (50% correct).  Whereas those that had been provided nicotine-containing cigarettes reported feeling less irritable, there were no differences between the two groups with respect to mood.  This suggests that nicotine did not enhance facial attractiveness ratings by uplifting mood in general.

The authors cite research literature on animals showing that nicotine administration lowers the threshold for brain reward stimulation, apparently accounting for the more favorable appraisal of facial attractiveness after nicotine administration in humans.


  1. AS, Penton-Voak IS, Munafo MR. Effects of acute nicotine administration on ratings of attractiveness of facial cues. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. Jan 2009;11(1):44-48.


I suspect this occurs because smoking relaxes you. When you're more relaxed, you're more likely to see the world (and the faces of the people in it) as brighter, happier, more attractive. When you're down, everything is/looks like crap.

The participants were not dependent on nicotine? Usually, or at least in my own experiences e.g. seeing casual smoking at bars, people usually looked nauseated, at least at first. People dependent on nicotine will definitely look more relaxed because they were probably having a nic fit prior. Very interesting study.

cocaine works even better

That's probably because the 99% of the people surveyed were at the bar with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. It was actually the beer goggles that were taking over and not the nicotine.

Johnny Blaze
Smoke Electronic Cigarettes instead, but don't wear your Beer Goggles


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What is this?

I think it's best to just stop smoking. Both for your health and for your looks.

This site is pretty much dead now, but I thought I'd chime in that Emily is a little fucking nazi. What a wretched human being she is.

Casual, light, alcohol-only or weekend smoker or not, one is still addicted to nicotine no matter the number of cigarettes they consume each day. Perhaps smokers who find another look upon them as ‘kindred spirits’ in this increasingly anti-smoking world, hence, smokers also find other smokers more attractive.

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