Raise Your Glass! It's Shape May Influence Your Drinking

(Image credit: Rita Juliana | Stock Xchng)

How quickly you down an alcoholic drink may depend on the shape of the glass you're holding, a new study suggests.

In the study, participants were asked to drink beer from either a straight-sided glass, or a curved "beer flute."

People took about almost twice as long to finish when drinking alcohol from the straight-sided glass, compared with the curved glass. There was no difference in drinking rates from the glasses when the drink was nonalcoholic.

People may swill their alcohol faster from curved glasses because it is more difficult to accurately judge the halfway point of these glasses, the researchers speculated. As a result, drinkers may be less able to gauge how much they have consumed.

"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," said study researcher Angela Attwood of the University of Bristol's School of Experimental Psychology in the United Kingdom.

In another experiment, participants completed a computer task in which they were shown pictures of two glasses containing varying volumes of liquid, and asked to judge whether each glass was more, or less, than half-full. The researchers found people made greater errors in judging the halfway point of the curved glass.

The participants who showed the greatest error in these judgments also tended to show the greatest changes in their drinking rates, the researchers said.

The speed at which people drink alcohol influences their level of intoxication, and the number of drinks they consume on an occasion. Therefore, slowing down is likely to have a positive impact for the individual, and also at a population level, the researchers said.

Pass it on: The shape of a glass may influence how quickly we consume alcohol.

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Live Science Staff
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