I was a bit late to the party on beer —I vehemently hated it (or so I thought) until, like, last year. Turned out I’d just never had good beer. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but it was an article about the health benefits of beer that made me want to give it another shot. I’m glad I did, though—it’s fun learning about the different varieties, even if this particular form of education is a slow process. Given my size, I’m usually that person still on their first while the rest of the table is on number three. That could also be because I tend to toss back water like it’s my job whenever I have alcohol in front of me. Balance.
A new study of British beer drinkers, however, shows that the shape of one’s beer glass affects the speed at which they drink. Apparently an optical illusion caused by the shape of a curved glass triggers a person to drink faster.
Experimental psychologist Angela Attwood of the University of Bristol and her colleagues randomly divided 160 young, healthy people—students and faculty members of the University of Bristol, plus some members of the general public—into eight groups. Alcoholics were screened out. Researchers assigned each group to drink either about 177 milliliters or about 354 milliliters of lager or soft drink from straight or curved glass while watching a nature video deemed emotionally neutral and afterwards completed out a word search task meant to disguise the true aim of the study. Each session was videotaped.
The group served a full glass of lager out of curved flute glasses was the one shown to consistently drink at a faster pace then the other groups. Researchers report that while the group with straight glasses nursed their 354 milliliters of lager for about 13 minutes, the group with the same amount of beer served in curved glasses finished in less than 8 minutes, drinking alcohol almost as quickly as the soda-drinkers drank their beverages. One interesting thing, though, is that there was no difference observed between people drinking 177 milliliters of beer out of straight versus fluted glasses.
Attwood believes that the reason for the increase in speed is that the halfway point in a curved glass is ambiguous. Since many of us pace ourselves by noting when we reach the halfway mark, this can throw off judgment.
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