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Glass Shape Speeds Drinking

The shape of the glass holding your favorite brew can affect how quickly you get drunk.

By | August 31, 2012

image: Glass Shape Speeds Drinking Flickr, Dinner Series

FLICKR, SIMON PEARCEBeer drinkers in the United Kingdom are influenced by an optical illusion caused by the shape of a curved glass. According to a new study published this month (August 17) in PLoS ONE, certain glass shapes can actually make people down a beer more quickly, possibly contributing to the rising binge drinking problem in the U.K. that legislation has failed to control.

Different glass shapes can give the same volume of liquid the appearance of varying volumes, reasoned experimental psychologist Angela Attwood of the University of Bristol. So she and her colleagues set out to test how much glass shape affected beer drinkers’ intake. They tested 160 healthy young people, who were categorized as “social beer drinks,” not alcoholics, according to the standard WHO test for hazardous drinking. The researchers then asked each participant to drink one of two volumes of lager or soft drink—either 177 milliliters or 354 milliliters—from either a straight or curved glasses, while watching a nature documentary. At the end of each session, the participants performed a word search task, the purpose of which was merely to throw them off the true purpose of the study.

Reviewing the data, the researchers found that people drinking a full glass of beer from a curved glass drank significantly faster—in about 8 minutes, compared to the average 13 minutes it took people drinking from a straight glass. They found no differences in drinking time, however, between curved and straight glasses of half a beer.

According to Attwood, social beer drinkers naturally pace their drinking by judging how quickly they reach the halfway point. Because a curved glass holds more beer in the top half, it unconsciously motivates drinkers to speed up, reasons Attwood, who suggests a solution of marking beer glasses with a half-full line. "We can't tell people not to drink, but we can give them a little more control," she told ScienceNOW.

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Comments

Avatar of: Feurliche

Feurliche

Posts: 1

August 31, 2012

That could be a nominee for Ig'nobel prize

Avatar of: IkeRoberts

IkeRoberts

Posts: 9

August 31, 2012

You don't suppose that the glass makers and pub owners are well aware of this phenomenon, and that they select glasses on this basis. Publicans have been collecting exacting data on glass-emptying rates for some centuries now.

Avatar of: Paul M. Stein

Paul M. Stein

Posts: 1457

September 1, 2012

Why didn't the investigators simply ask their subjects why they drank their beers faster from one glass shape versus another?

Avatar of: Martin Linder

Martin Linder

Posts: 1457

September 1, 2012

According to the paper, they only had one beer each.
Also, I´d suppose the chances for an honest, accurate assessment would be rather slim.

Avatar of: Rob Lynn

Rob Lynn

Posts: 1

September 1, 2012

A lot of pint glasses ALREADY have a half pint line on them.

Guess what? It makes no difference at all

Avatar of: Martin Linder

Martin Linder

Posts: 1457

September 2, 2012

Do you have any references on that? Seems like a pretty big oversight on the researchers part if factual.

Avatar of: Andrew Cook

Andrew Cook

Posts: 1457

September 2, 2012

The suggestion from this study is that there be a HALF pint marker. I believe my Dimple mug is good at demarcating my decreasing beer volume though.

Avatar of: Joe_the_Troll

Joe_the_Troll

Posts: 1

September 2, 2012

Pint glasses are not curved, which is an important detail in this study. The effect was not seen in straight glasses. Pint glasses bevel slightly, but not that much.

Avatar of: Countessbathory Nicol

Countessbathory Nicol

Posts: 1457

September 2, 2012

Your title is misleading. It implies that there is some scientific reason that the shape of the glass effects how quickly the alcohol effects you and not how fast you drink it.

Avatar of: Omyr

Omyr

Posts: 1

September 2, 2012

/agreed

Avatar of: Cindy Huidai Loo

Cindy Huidai Loo

Posts: 1457

September 2, 2012

How was the title misleading? It's called "Glass Shape Speeds Drinking." To me, that means that the shape of your glass can make you drink faster.

Avatar of: Athena McKenzie

Athena McKenzie

Posts: 1457

September 2, 2012

I believe they'r referring to the misleading sub title

Avatar of: Seph

Seph

Posts: 1457

September 2, 2012

How is it misleading? The article says the shape of the glass affects how fast you drink it. The title didn't mention alcohol; you read that into it.

September 2, 2012

I think they're referring to the subtitle, which does mention getting drunk...

Avatar of: Nathan Nimz

Nathan Nimz

Posts: 1457

September 2, 2012

I understand the confusion if you got the link from the "i fucking love science" facebook page as it says "The science of drinking - the shape of your glass can affect how quickly you get drunk!". Otherwise the rest are right, WTF?

Avatar of: Countessbathory Nicol

Countessbathory Nicol

Posts: 1457

September 2, 2012

Just to clarify, Yes,I was talking about the subtitle.

Avatar of: JB

JB

Posts: 1

September 2, 2012

Now I want a beer.

Avatar of: Clive

Clive

Posts: 1

September 2, 2012

It's simply the spill factor- it's easier to drink from curved glass without spilling down the sides of your mouth.

September 2, 2012

your ignorance is misleading

Avatar of: Countessbathory Nicol

Countessbathory Nicol

Posts: 1457

September 2, 2012

If this was directed at me my dear, I do think it a tad childish. However, I am not offended as I am sure was your intention.

Avatar of: GojuSuzi

GojuSuzi

Posts: 1

September 2, 2012

I've actually found - as a "social drinker", a barworker, and the daughter of a publican - that Attwood's theory is the opposite of the case. We always use those 'flute' style glasses for half-pints, based on them getting empties faster than the mini-pint style of the same volume, and I have always seen that, when people reach the 'peak' of the inward curve (about two-third from the bottom in perpendicular height), because the glass is slimmer at the bottom than the top, it looks like there's not much left, so they tend to start necking it. I've fallen foul of this illusion myself, choking on what I assumed was a mouthful and was in fact nearly half my drink!

Added to that, when using something that looks like a companion's full-pint glass in shape, you tend to pace your drinking to match theirs on a per-drink basis, not per-volume, and so won't hit the halfway mark (1/4 pint) until they hit theirs (1/2 pint), meaning you're drinking exactly half as much as them at a steady pace; with the fluted glass, it's not so easy to subconsciously make a comparison, so in order to match pace, you need to make a conscious effort, which generally does not last longer than one or two rounds, and so you'd default to your own 'natural' pace rather than slowing down to avoid extra trips to the bar. This latter bit, I assume was not noted so much in the study, because when the social interaction and 'laziness' factors are removed, that wouldn't play so much of a part.

Avatar of: Andrew M Deen

Andrew M Deen

Posts: 1457

September 2, 2012

If this became legislation, I would recommend a "Half Empty" line instead because "Half Full" is just to much.
And to be scientifically correct the glass should say "Half Empty of Liquid" as the glass is always full otherwise.

Avatar of: Debilee7

Debilee7

Posts: 1

September 2, 2012

It goes down faster in this curved glass because it is 'top heavy' and if it isn't drunk faster there is the unfortunate likelihood of it spilling out both sides of ones mouth because it comes out of the glass faster when tipped (this is the sensation anyway). Whereas with a straight glass it seems to come out at a regular and non-spillable pace.

Avatar of: Coco Bennett

Coco Bennett

Posts: 1457

September 2, 2012

JEF AKST I hope you aren't a journalist as this piece has been written to an extremely mediocre standard,with grammatical and spelling errors. People cannot be quoted as social beer drinks? And also you use the term 'more quickly' which is incorrect English.

Avatar of: Jordan Grey

Jordan Grey

Posts: 1

September 3, 2012

maybe we should stop feaking babying people and take a bit of responsibility, we don't need a marker on our glasses to show where half way is. Natural Selection is a far more efficient process without warning labels on stupidly obvious things and lines on our beer glasses.

Avatar of: Samuel Brod

Samuel Brod

Posts: 1457

September 3, 2012

if that's the case why do i still get so much hassle from drunken a**eholes when i walk home on a friday night? Efficient; yes. Rapid; no.

Avatar of: krozareq

krozareq

Posts: 1457

September 3, 2012

People binge drink because everything else that is fun is already illegal.

Avatar of: Chris Mark

Chris Mark

Posts: 1457

September 4, 2012

This "research" is worthless. What kind of curve? Concave or convex? Does the radius of curvature have any effect? What about glasses with an inflection point like the Sam Adams glass? How about slanted sides, like a standard pint. Does the angle make a difference?

Avatar of: Paul M. Stein

Paul M. Stein

Posts: 1457

September 7, 2012

Coming from the thermoregulatory physiology world, I understand heat transfer fairly well. I also like to drink my beer cold. So, with a fluted glass, with a higher surface to volume ratio, it simply gets warmer faster. So, I'm just going to drink it faster. See, I have my reason, so the investigators should have asked their subjects too.

Avatar of: Daniel Ruben du Prie

Daniel Ruben du Prie

Posts: 1457

September 17, 2012

what a load of bulls**t - "unconsciously motivates", "according to", the psychologist "reasons" this and that happens (whatever happened to hypothesis?)...total crap.

Avatar of: PhrankJP

PhrankJP

Posts: 1

September 17, 2012

The bottom line is that free beer leads to binge drinking.

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