04/09/2012 15:32 BST | Updated 04/09/2012 15:38 BST

Glass Shape Influences How Quickly You Drink Alcohol, Study Suggests

No doubt you've heard time and time again how you shouldn't mix your drinks, lest you become blurry eyed and somewhat worse for wear. Ahem.

But recent studies show that you should be watching not only what you drink, but where you drink it from. That's right, your vessel of choice could be making you drink alcohol faster.


A study conducted by Bristol's School of Experimental Psychology recruited 160 social drinkers aged 18-40 with no history of alcoholism to test the theory.

The results showed that participants were almost twice as slow drinking alcohol from a straight-sided glass compared to a curved 'beer flute', although there was no difference when the drink was non-alcoholic.

The researchers suggest that the reason for the difference may be because it is more difficult to accurately judge the halfway point of shaped glasses. As a result, drinkers are less able to gauge how much they have consumed.

In order to test this, participants attended another session in which they completed a computer task that presented numerous pictures of the two glasses containing varying volumes of liquid. By asking participants to judge whether the glass was more or less than half full, the researchers were able to show that there was greater error in accurately judging the halfway point of the curved glass.

Importantly, the degree of this error seemed to be associated with the speed of drinking. That is, the participants who tended to show the greatest error in their halfway judgments tended to show the greatest changes in drinking rate.

The speed at which an alcoholic beverage is drunk will influence the level of intoxication experienced, and also the number of drinks consumed in a single drinking session. Therefore, slowing drinking rates is likely to have positive impact for the individual and also at a population level.

Dr Angela Attwood, who led the study, said in a statement: "Due to the personal and societal harms associated with heavy bouts of drinking, there has been a lot of recent interest in alcohol control strategies. While many people drink alcohol responsibly, it is not difficult to have 'one too many' and become intoxicated. Because of the negative effects alcohol has on decision making and control of behaviour, this opens us up to a number of risks.

"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."

See also:

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Alcohol Consumption Kills 9,000 Brits A Year

Alcohol Price Hike To Tackle 'Acute' Problem Of Binge Drinking