Crime and Punishment: Barely Legal

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People tend to overestimate the age of teenage girls by a couple of years (and boys by 6 months), a fact that opens the door to excuses for statutory rape. But according to research, alcohol should not be seen as a mitigating circumstance; being drunk has no effect on men's estimates of girls' ages.

Researchers digitally altered photos of 17-year-old girls to make them look slightly younger or older. Whether inebriated or not, men judged the younger-looking faces to be 18 to 19 and the older-looking faces to be 20 to 21. (Booze also made faces look "prettier"—the beer-goggles effect—but only the older faces, and only those with makeup.)

"Our study implies that alcohol misuse should not be used in a defense plea for statutory rape, or seen as a mitigating factor for judges," says Vincent Egan of the University of Leicester in England. But considering the general tendency to overestimate teen maturity, you're still better off checking your new friend's ID.

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