R Pechey, AS Attwood, D-L Couturier, MR Munafò, NE Scott-Samuel, A Woods, TM Marteau
BACKGROUND: Judgements of volume may influence the rate of consumption of alcohol and, in turn, the amount consumed. The aim of the current study was to examine the impact of the size and shape of wine glasses on perceptions of wine volume. METHODS: Online experiment: Participants (n = 360; recruited via Mechanical Turk) were asked to match the volume of wine in two wine glasses, specifically: 1. the Reference glass holding a fixed reference volume, and 2. the Comparison glass, for which the volume could be altered until participants perceived it matched the reference volume. One of three comparison glasses was shown in each trial: 'wider' (20% wider but same capacity); 'larger' (same width but 25% greater capacity); or 'wider-and-larger' (20% wider and 25% greater capacity). Reference volumes were 125 ml, 175 ml and 250 ml, in a fully factorial within-subjects design: 3 (comparison glass) x 3 (reference volume). Non-zero differences between the volumes with which participants filled comparison glasses and the corresponding reference volumes were identified using sign-rank tests. RESULTS: Participants under-filled the wider glass relative to the reference glass for larger reference volumes, and over-filled the larger glass relative to the reference glass for all reference volumes. Results for the wider-and-larger glass showed a mixed pattern across reference volume. For all comparison glasses, in trials with larger reference volumes participants tended to fill the comparison glass less, relative to trials with smaller reference volumes for the same comparison glass. CONCLUSIONS: These results are broadly consistent with people using the relative fullness of glasses to judge volume, and suggest both the shape and capacity of wine glasses may influence perceived volume. Perceptions that smaller glasses contain more than larger ones (despite containing the same volume), could slow drinking speed and overall consumption by serving standard portions in smaller glasses. This hypothesis awaits testing.