| Shape and Consumption
by Barbara Jean Collins
Hello Bob - hope you are getting ready to enjoy some good beer
which is what I'm about to do after (and maybe while) I writing this.
This is my first note to you by the way. Anyway, I was motivated to
write when I was trying to decide which beer glass to use. Oh, don't
worry this will not be an article about which type of glass best
enhances which type of beer. You already have a great one on that in
the Special Reports section of Beer Nexus. No, I wanted to tell you
about a recent scientific study about the relationship between the
shape of the glass and the amount you drink. It's wild. Since you're
the expert I wanted to know what you think about it all.
The basic premise of the research is that your drinking glass can trick
you into consuming alcohol much more quickly than you intend.
That's because, according to researchers at the University of Bristol in
England, people tend to make volume judgments based on the height
or shape of a container—and they are often pretty far from the mark.
When the glass holds milk or juice well, then those terrible
guesstimates don’t really matter. But they become a serious
problem at the bar.
To better understand what makes people overindulge, the researchers
recruited drinkers (aged 18 through 40) and split them into two
groups. Half received glasses with lines marking where it was a quarter,
half and three-quarters full; the other group had the same glasses but
without the indicators. Those drinking from marked glasses imbibed
more slowly thanthe other group—suggesting, the researchers say,
that whendrinkers have a clear view of how much they’re consuming,
they pace themselves. There was also an association between the
degree of error and speed of drinking when using the curved glass.
Those who made the greatest mistakes in guessing the amount of
their consumption tended to be the ones who drank the fastest
from the curved glasses. Participants were 60% slower to consume
an alcoholic beverage from a straight glass compared to a curved
glass. This effect was only observed for a full glass and not a half-full
glass, and was not observed for a non-alcoholic beverage.
The researchers next took their study out to real bars to see if theory
and reality were one and the same. They asked three bars to record
how much beer they sold over the course of two weekends when
using two different kinds of glasses: one straight and one curved. It
turned out that straight-sided glasses led to significantly fewer
purchases. Interesting, don't you think?
At the 2015 British Psychological Society Annual Conference in
Liverpool, this study was made public. The researchers postulated
that the bar patrons served in the straight glasses ended up drinking
less because they were better than those barflies with curved
glasses at judging the volume of their beverages.
So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed my contribution.
Thanks for your article Barbara. You certainly told us about a
fascinating study. I think it might have real value. People often talk of
'pacing themselves' when drinking beer (or any alcohol for that matter)
as a means of controlling levels of inebriation therefore knowing that
their pace may be compromised by certain types of glasses seems vital.
However I'd like to see a fee more test and on a larger scale however
before using this information for any serious change in what bars do.
Great job! Thanks for sending it in.
I'd like to invite everyone to send me their own columns about anything
related to beer/drinking/booze just as John did. I select the best and
publish them here. So join in and get writing.
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