A new study performed by a British “experimental psychologist” at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom suggests that drinking beer out of a curved or fluted glass can make you drink faster than drinking out of a traditional pint glass. I suggest that’s bullshit.
Angela Attwood, the psychologist, and her colleagues gathered up 160 people, consisting of University of Bristol students, faculty and some Joes off the street, to give them free beer and observe their drinking speeds using straight glasses and curved glasses. The test subjects were reportedly all “young, healthy…’social drinkers,’ and not alcoholics.”
Now that sounds scientific, right? I can just picture Ms. Attwood, who I imagine looks like J.K. Rowling in a white lab coat, asking students, coworkers and random people, “Want some free beer? Yes? Wait, you’re not an alcoholic, are you?”
Attwood then broke the participants into groups and got down to business.
From a HuffingtonPost.com report:
“The team reports that whereas 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…However, the researchers observed no differences between people drinking 177 milliliters of beer out of straight versus fluted glasses.”
All of the people in each group drank at the same pace? All of the people with straight glasses finished their drinks in about 13 minutes? And the folks with curved glasses all finished in eight minutes? That sounds very odd, but even if it is true, the finding seems to suggest that all of the people in the groups were looking at each other and trying not to drink faster than anyone else. And doesn’t the second finding kind of raise doubt about the first one?
“Attwood believes that the reason for the increase in speed is that the halfway point in a curved glass is ambiguous. Social beer drinkers, she says, naturally tend to pace themselves when drinking alcohol, judging their speed by how fast they reach half-full.”
I’ve known a lot of drinkers in my day, some “social,” some anti-social and some plain old socially awkward. Of the ones that paced themselves, I’ve never known any that did so by looking at the halfway point of a pint glass. That’s just silly. Drinkers who are trying to pace themselves keep track of and limit the number of beers they drink, not the number of half beers they consume.
For example, you might decide that you’re not going to have more than two beers, because after two beers you start to feel buzzed, and you have to drive home from the bar. Even if you don’t set a specific limit on how many beers you plan to drink, you probably still keep loose tabs on how many you’ve had, and you don’t likely think, “Well, shit, I’ve had three and a half beers, and I thought I’d only had two and a half. Fucking curved glass really threw me a curve ball there.”
As a professional journalist, I read a lot of research reports, many of which are laughable, unscientific “studies” or “surveys” designed to push a specific marketing message by skewing findings toward a vendor’s product or service. Some of the questionable studies are simply meant to garner attention and make headlines instead providing any real value or insights. Attwood’s research appears to fall in the latter category.