PsyBlog has a delightful article discussing whether louder music increases alcohol consumption. It turns out it does, and surprisingly, there seems to have been quite a few studies done to examine the effect.
One research group even did a sort of randomised controlled trial on bars and music in a fantastic real-world experiment.
One study by Gueguen et al. (2004) found that higher sound levels lead to people drinking more. In a new study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, Gueguen et al. (2008) visited a bar in the west of France to confirm their previous finding in a naturalistic setting. Here, they observed customers’ drinking habits across three Saturday nights, in two different bars in the city.
The level of the music was randomly manipulated to create the conditions of a true experiment. It was either at its usual volume of 72dB or turned up to 88dB. For comparison: 72db is like the sound of traffic on a busy street while 88db is like standing next to a lawnmower.
Sure enough when the music went up the beers went down, faster. On average bar-goers took 14.5 minutes to finish a 250ml (8 oz) glass of draught beer when the music was at its normal level. But this came down to just 11.5 minutes when the music was turned up. As a result, on average, during their time in the bar each participant ordered one more drink in the loud music condition than in the normal music condition.
Link to ‘Why Loud Music in Bars Increases Alcohol Consumption’.
4 thoughts on “Pump up the vino”
The louder the music, the louder you have to talk/shout to be heard, the more lubrication your throat needs.
Or…the louder the music, the less motivated you are to talk over the loud music, thus freeing up the mouth to consume more alcohol.
An alternative and more complex hypothesis could be that because you are less motivated to talk, you are left with 4 possible options; to leave, stand there like an idiot, dance, or drink more. Nobody wants to be a party pooper nor an idiot, and not many people dance sober.
The real mystery is why people stay in, or return to, bars that are too loud!