The study involved a group of 159 women and men who were filmed drinking either half a pint of beer, or half a pint of a soft drink. Some of the glasses given to participants were straight, and some were curved.
The observing scientists then timed how long it took each participant to drink their drinks. Participants who drank soft drinks from straight glasses took the same amount of time to finish as those who drank soft drinks from curved glasses.
However, those drinking beer from curved glasses finished their drink 60% faster than those drinking beer from straight glasses, leading the researchers to the conclusion that the rounded glass made it harder for participants to judge how much they had consumed, leaving them unable to pace themselves sensibly.
Lead researcher Dr Angela Attwood explained that people drinking soft drinks are less concerned about pacing themselves, explaining why the glass shape made no difference to drinking speeds.
To test this theory, the researchers then showed the group of participants a variety of images depicting partially-filled beer glasses, before asking them to judge whether they were more or less than half full.
Participants were more likely to get the answer wrong when assessing liquid in curved glasses, suggesting the rounded shape made it more difficult to judge the volume.
Dr Attwood believes these findings could be applied in pubs to help prevent people from drinking too much. If pub-goers were given straight glasses, they might find it easier to keep track of how quickly they consume their drinks.
However, this study only looks at people’s drinking habits in a laboratory setting. To draw any significant conclusions from this study, it would have to be carried out in a natural setting.
The government recommends women drink no more than a small glass of wine (or the equivalent) per day, and men drink no more than 1.5 pints of beer a day (or the equivalent).
Alcohol abuse can cause significant damage to both the body and the mind. To find out more about the effects of alcohol and how counselling can help, please visit our Alcoholism page.
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