Pi Attitude Zone: Self-Gratification

Half-Full (Slow) Or Half-Empty (Quicker)?

Does it matter what shape of glass you drink your beer from?  Where British drinkers are concerned, it apparently does.

In the UK, pints of draft beer are drunk either from stippled glass mugs (so-called ‘jugs’, now regarded as rather old-fashioned), or from straight-sided glasses, or from ‘flutes’, those beer-glasses which curve outwards at the top and curve inwards at the bottom. 

Which of these a drinker chooses exerts, it seems, a significant effect on how quickly the pint gets downed.

Researchers timed a sample of British pub-goers on how rapidly they consumed their drinks.  A full straight-sided glass of beer was typically polished off in eleven minutes.  The same amount of beer in a curved-sided ‘flute’, however, was drunk on average four minutes quicker.  The remarkable results were too consistent to be a fluke.

What the researchers seem to have learned is that our perceptions of volume can be tricked by different shapes.  Speed of beer-drinking seems to have much to do with our potentially faulty perception of where the half-way mark is in whatever glass we’re quaffing from. 

Judging whether a straight-sided glass is still half-full is relatively easy.  But the same sub-conscious calculation is less reliable when curvature is influencing our perceptions.  The top “half” of a top-heavy vessel is actually much more than half of the volume, and it seems to get chugged down pretty quickly because the volume involved seems like less than half.  The remaining “half” in the narrower bottom part of the glass is in reality significantly less than a half-pint.  Drinkers accordingly polish it off more quickly -- surprised, perhaps, by how quickly it disappears down the hatch.

Pi says: marketers take note.  Different vessel and packaging shapes can produce quite different perceptions of how much they contain.

Zone: Self-Gratification Country: Europe Product – Consumer Products