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Beer-Glass Shape Determines How Fast (and Much) We Drink

Update Date: Sep 01, 2012 02:05 PM EDT
Beer-glass
An ingredient in beer may help prevent cavities and gum disease, according to a new study. (Photo : Flickr/Cambridge Brewing Co. )

When  downing a cold glass of beer,  the last thing on our minds is the glass itself. But little do we know, notes research published in the journal PLoS ONE, that the shape of the glass can determine how fast and how much we drink.

Dr. Angela Attwood and colleagues from the University of Bristol's School of Experimental Psychology argue that curvy glass shapes challenge drinkers to pace themselves because it skews the measurable amount of alcohol left in the glass and how much was consumed.

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In an experiment that included 160 non-alcoholic addicted drinkers aged 18-40, participants proved to be twice as slow in drinking from a straight-sided glass compared to curved glasses.

To test this reasoning, researchers then made participants complete a computer generated quiz that presented pictures of numerous straight-sided and curvy glasses with varying volumes of liquid and asked to compare the two types to gauge which had more liquid.

Results showed that there was a greater margin of error in accurately judging the halfway point of the curved glass. The participants who tended to show the greatest error in their halfway judgments tended to show the greatest changes in drinking rate.

Experts correlated that the speed at which an alcoholic beverage is drunk will influence the level of intoxication experienced, and also the number of drinks consumed in a single drinking session.

Therefore, they suggest that changing glasses to straight-edged only can slow drinking rates and "well likely to have positive impact for the individual and also at a population level.

Dr Attwood surmises:

"Due to the personal and societal harms associated with heavy bouts of drinking, there has been a lot of recent interest in alcohol control strategies. While many people drink alcohol responsibly, it is not difficult to have 'one too many' and become intoxicated. Because of the negative effects alcohol has on decision making and control of behaviour, this opens us up to a number of risks," adding that altering the glasses used in pubs could "nudge" people to drink more healthily by "giving control back".

BBC news reports that the shape of a glass has already been shown to affect how much alcohol people pour. A study in 2005 showed people were more likely to pour extra alcohol into short, wide glasses than tall, narrow ones.

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