Many people have gone to a bar and told themselves, "Eh, I'll just have one." Several drinks later, their wallet is gone, their hair smells like raw chicken and they're on their way to missing a day of work.
Two new studies from the University of Bristol in England spurred by excessive alcohol as a public health concern suggest drinkers can slow down their drinking just by choosing the right glass or marking it to indicate the volume of the drink. Angela Attwood, a research fellow with the university's Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, and psychology Ph.D. student David Troy conducted the studies and presented their findings last Wednesday at the British Psychological Society's annual conference.
It definitely doesn't sound like it'd be hard to recruit volunteers for these studies. The first examined the drinking habits of 160 test subjects, 80 men and 80 women, split into two, random groups and given beers. Each had a curved beer glass, but only one of the groups had glasses with markings to indicate if their drink was a quarter, half or three-quarters full (or empty, depending on your personality). The other group drank from unmarked beer glasses, according to a University of Bristol release.
The monitors of the study removed participants with "abnormally slow drinking times" (aka lightweights) and monitored those who could finish their beer more quickly. They noticed that those with the marked glasses finished their drink with a slower average time than those with the normal glasses. According to the university, participants with marked glasses finished their drinks in 10.3 minutes, while those with unmarked glasses were done in an average of 9.1 minutes.
Another study looked at the actual shape of the glass to determine if that had an outcome on drinking speeds in a "real world" environment. According to the release, the researchers moved their experiment into three different pubs over the course of two weekends. They examined the drinking times of people with straight versus curved glasses and found that drinkers who took sips from straight glasses took more time to finish their drinks than those with curved glasses, resulting in lower overall consumption rate.
This concept doesn't just apply to beer, but seems to have the same effects on drinkers who enjoy hard liquor. Brian Wansink, the director of Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab in the Department of Applied Economics and Management, and Koert van Ittersum from the Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Management published the results of a study in the British Medical Journal in 2005 in which they asked participants to pour shots into one of two glasses with an equal volume -- a tall, thin glass and a short, wide glass.
While the glasses had the same volume, people with the shorter glasses poured a shot with 30 percent more liquid. They did a second study with actual bartenders and found they also poured more liquid in the shorter glasses -- 20.5 percent more to be precise.
Attwood said the lessons she and her team gleaned from the studies are quite simple: straighter glasses with clearly defined volume levels can slow down a person's drinking pace. "Our research suggests that small changes such as glass shape and volume markings can help individuals make more accurate judgments of the volume they are drinking, and hopefully drinkers will use this information to drink at a slower pace."
Troy also said the studies only took place in "a limited number of pubs...over a short time scale, so the results are preliminary and need to be treated with caution."
That means there are bound to be more studies that need volunteers to drink and more chances for me to volunteer to be their next guinea pig. Where do I send my application?
(Via Huffington Post)