Researchers find glass shape influences consumption rate of lager

Aug 31, 2012 by Bob Yirka report
Straight-sided (A) and Curved (B) Glasses. Image credit: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043007.g001

(Phys.org)—When times get tough, people quite often turn to alcohol to numb themselves to the world around them, and more often than not, their drink of choice is beer, or in Britain, lager. What many who imbibe may not realize though, is that their choice of drinking glass may be impacting the rate at which they consume. A team of researchers from the University of Bristol, thought so, and devised a study to determine if they were right; they enlisted a group of volunteers and as they report in their paper published in PLoS One, found that drinking from a fluted glass caused drinkers to drink faster.

The team notes that they undertook their study because they've grown alarmed, like many in the UK, over the rising levels of binge drinking in that country, which has of course led to societal problems. They note also that such binge drinking appears to be most prevalent in young people who haven't yet learned of the true consequences of doing so or how to meter their drinking as they carry on. Believing that more knowledge is always better, they devised an experiment to find out if the of a drinking has an impact on how quickly people consume their .

The experiment consisted of enlisting the aid of 160 undergraduate volunteers from the university, half male, half female to engage in drinking either lager or non-alcoholic lemonade. Some were given glasses with straight edges, others glasses that were fluted; also some were presented with glasses that were full while others received glasses that were only half so. The volunteers were shown a non-emotional film about animals as they drank and were told beforehand that the experiment was meant to test language.

In observing and timing the rate at which the volunteers consumed their , the team found that those that drank from the full fluted glasses finished in about an average of seven minutes, whereas those drinking from full straight sided glasses did so in about eleven minutes, clearly indicating that glass shape was making an impact on consumption rate. They also noted that those drinking drank at approximately the same rate as those drinking from the fluted glasses regardless of glass shape. Curiously, they also found that those who received a glass just half full drank at the same pace regardless of glass shape and finished on average in five minutes.

The researchers suggest that the reason people might drink faster from a fluted glass is because they incorrectly gauge consumption rate. Because of the wide top, an illusion is created that makes it difficult to discern pace; what looks like a half full glass for example, is more likely one that is closer to just one quarter full, meaning they've already consumed three quarters of it while thinking they've consumed just half. The end result is faster consumption, which could lead to .

Explore further: Power isn't enough: Study reveals the missing link for effective leadership

More information: Attwood AS, Scott-Samuel NE, Stothart G, Munafò MR (2012) Glass Shape Influences Consumption Rate for Alcoholic Beverages. PLoS ONE 7(8): e43007. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043007

Abstract

Background
High levels of alcohol consumption and increases in heavy episodic drinking (binge drinking) are a growing public concern, due to their association with increased risk of personal and societal harm. Alcohol consumption has been shown to be sensitive to factors such as price and availability. The aim of this study was to explore the influence of glass shape on the rate of consumption of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Methods
This was an experimental design with beverage (lager, soft drink), glass (straight, curved) and quantity (6 fl oz, 12 fl oz) as between-subjects factors. Social male and female alcohol consumers (n = 159) attended two experimental sessions, and were randomised to drink either lager or a soft drink from either a curved or straight-sided glass, and complete a computerised task identifying perceived midpoint of the two glasses (order counterbalanced). Ethical approval was granted by the Faculty of Science Research Ethics Committee at the University of Bristol. The primary outcome measures were total drinking time of an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage, and perceptual judgement of the half-way point of a straight and curved glass.
Results
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. Participants also misjudged the half-way point of a curved glass to a greater degree than that of a straight glass, and there was a trend towards a positive association between the degree of error and total drinking time.
Conclusions
Glass shape appears to influence the rate of drinking of alcoholic beverages. This may represent a modifiable target for public health interventions.

Press release

Related Stories

Young adults drink more in the company of a heavy drinker

Mar 21, 2012

Young adults drink more alcohol if they are in the company of peers who drink heavily. NWO researcher Helle Larsen has scientifically confirmed this link for the first time by observing young adults in a research lab converted ...

Italians drinking less wine

Jul 06, 2006

Researchers say the amount of wine Italians drink has fallen considerably over the past 30 years.

Recommended for you

User comments : 11

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Eikka
5 / 5 (4) Aug 31, 2012
If you let lager to sit and lose its bubbles and warm up, it begins to taste awful. It's meant to be drunk fast.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 31, 2012
A team of researchers from the University of Bristol, thought so, and devised a study to determine if they were right; they enlisted a group of volunteers

That sounds like one study where there should be no lack of eager volunteers.

They also noted that those drinking lemonade drank at approximately the same rate as those drinking from the fluted glasses regardless of glass shape.

The difference could be the perception of foam to content ratio. If the glass is half foam, half beer it seems relatively empty. A glass just half full of lemonade seems...well...half full.

The concluson they draw seems at odds with their own observation regarding lemonade consumption.
Skultch
5 / 5 (1) Aug 31, 2012
If you let lager to sit and lose its bubbles and warm up, it begins to taste awful. It's meant to be drunk fast.


Yup. And if you are outside in the sun, the longer you take to drink it, the more skunked it gets. One should never slowly drink a craft IPA in the sun; shade it or coozy that bugger. Why are their clear beer bottles, you ask? Corona pre-skunks their beer and Miller High Life uses a synthetic bittering hop substitute that doesn't skunk. *The More You Know..{rainbow}
panorama
5 / 5 (2) Aug 31, 2012
One should never drink a craft IPA

I fixed your statement based on my own bias...except Lagunitas IPA. I've tried many many IPA's and have only ever found one that I liked, and it barely resembles one.

Now if you hand me an ice cold Kölsch on a sunny day, it'll be gone in a few minutes. OBX Beer by Weeping Radish, pure ecstasy.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Aug 31, 2012
the longer you take to drink it, the more skunked it gets


I don't think the reaction happens quite that fast.
geokstr
1 / 5 (3) Aug 31, 2012
Perhaps the pictures are not proportional, but it looks like they are the same height, and they article does not say if they hold equal amounts. If they are the same height, the fluted one would hold significantly less, and therefore would be finished in less time.

They wouldn't have made that big an error, I hope.
rah
3 / 5 (2) Sep 01, 2012
Readers find that researchers do bogus research in order to drink more beer.
geokstr
1 / 5 (3) Sep 01, 2012
Dave Barry, the noted historian of the male gender and author of the acclaimed "Complete Guide to Guys", contends that beer is the greatest invention ever.
ahmedgnz
not rated yet Sep 02, 2012
I couldn't help but ROFL uncontrollably when I read what these geniuses came up with. I wonder if there is some shape of glass that makes people STOP drinking after the third beer ...
Skultch
not rated yet Sep 02, 2012
the longer you take to drink it, the more skunked it gets


I don't think the reaction happens quite that fast.


It depends on your elevation and cloud cover. It's quite pronounced where I live, but that's at over 10,000 ft elevation with 300 sunny days per year. 1/3 the atmosphere. Yeah, at sea level, it's going to get too warm to drink faster than too skunky to taste right. I imagine the lines on that graph converge around, and I'm totally guessing, 5000 ft.
Skultch
5 / 5 (1) Sep 02, 2012
One should never drink a craft IPA
I fixed your statement based on my own bias...except Lagunitas IPA. I've tried many many IPA's and have only ever found one that I liked, and it barely resembles one.


Cool. To each their own. :) I love any style of hoppy beer, from the mild and balanced British ESB, to the American over-the-top unbalanced Imperial IPAs where the hops totally overpowers the maltiness. My favorites are the perfectly balanced double IPAs like Avery Maharaja or Pliny the Elder. My favorite style is probably Russian Imperial Stout, especially the bourbon barrel aged and/or espresso and/or chocolate sub-styles.