The story is based on a study at the University of Bristol, where a researcher set out to test the difference between drinking out of a straight glass, such as a pint glass, and a glass with curved edges, like a flute. It was found that the majority of subjects downed the beer out of a flute quicker than out of a straight glass.
The reason being that those drinking out of a flute can’t easily tell how much they have imbibed because of the curves in the glass, and therefore aren’t as good at pacing themselves.
From the Economist:
Dr Attwood’s hypothesis is that a beer drinker, wishing to pace himself through an evening, is monitoring the volume remaining in the glass, probably with reference to the halfway mark. A curved-sided glass, though, makes exercising such judgment hard—as she demonstrated by calling her volunteers back a week later and asking them to estimate from pictures how full various glasses were. Most volunteers thought the halfway mark in the flute was lower than its true value, and if a volunteer had drunk from such a glass originally, the degree of misestimation correlated with how fast he had drunk. If a glass is half-full to start with, however, this reference point is lost from the beginning.
I don’t think this small study quite proves the point, but it is something to drink over.
- Matt Pritchard