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Glass shape influences how quickly we drink alcohol

Research shows drinking out of a curved glass will increase a person’s rate of drinking compared to a straight-sided glass.

Image: Hawkins via Flickr/Creative Commons

THE SHAPE OF the glass a person drinks alcohol from could have an impact on how quickly they drink it, according to a new study by the University of Bristol.

Researchers recruited 160 social drinkers aged 18-40 with no history of alcoholism to attend two experimental sessions. At one session they were asked to drink either lager or a non-alcoholic soft drink from either a straight-sided glass or a curved ‘beer flute’.

The study, published in PLoS ONE showed people were almost twice as slow when drinking alcohol from the straight-sided glass compared to the curved glass. There was no difference in drinking rates from the glasses when the beverage was non-alcoholic.

The researchers have suggested the reason for the difference in drinking speed may be that it is more difficult to accurately judge the halfway point of curved glasses and therefore drinkers are less able to gauge how much they have consumed.

The second session involved showing participants pictures on a computer screen of the two types of glasses with varying volumes of liquid in them. When asked whether a glass was more or less than half full, people found it more difficult to judge the halfway point of the curved glass.

Interestingly, the degree of judgement error seemed to be associated with drinking speed as participants who showed the greatest difficulty in halfway judgement also showed the greatest changes in drinking rate.

Lead researcher at the University of Bristol, Dr Angela Attwood said while many people drink alcohol responsibly, it is not difficult to have “one too many” and become intoxicated.

“People often talk of ‘pacing themselves’ when drinking alcohol as a means of controlling levels of drunkenness, and I think the important point to take from our research is that the ability to pace effectively may be compromised when drinking from certain types of glasses,” she said.

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