4 Comments »Posted on Friday 29 May 2009 at 3:43 pm by Jacob Aron
In Getting It Wrong, Psychology

It’s Friday, so many of you will probably be off to the pub this evening to wind down after a hard week’s work. As you sip your frosty pint on this warm spring evening, you might want to take note of how you hold the glass. According to new research by psychologist Dr Glenn Wilson, this small indicator can reveal much about your personality.

Only it can’t, because it’s a load of bollocks commissioned by the Walkabout bar chain to get them a bunch of free advertising. Dr Wilson, of King’s College, London, drew his conclusions by observing 500 patrons in bars – no doubt Walkabout owned – last month.

Splitting drinkers in to eight distinct groups by, I dunno, pulling them out of thin air, Dr Wilson tells us how we may be inadvertently broadcasting our unconscious intentions every time we take a swig:

“The simple act of holding a drink displays a lot more about us than we realise – or might want to divulge.

“When you’re in a crowded bar, often all you have to go on is body language.

“To a large extent, it’s an unconscious thing and just reflects the person you are and the type of social relationships you have.

“The next time you’re in a bar, it might be worth thinking about what you’re saying to the people around you, just by the way you’re holding your glass.”

If you really care about the categories, check out the links above for full details. They include The Flirt, “usually a woman, who holds her glass with dainty, splayed fingers and uses it in a provocative way,” and The Browbeater, “usually male, he prefers large glasses, or bottles, which he uses as symbolic weapons, firmly grasped, and gesticulating in a threatening, “in the face” kind of way.”

Dr Wilson seems to have forgotten a ninth category, The Bullshitter. This type of drinker makes up “science” as they quickly down their beverage before laughing all the way to the bank.


  1. 4 Comments

  2. Not mincing your words eh Jacob?

    By Colin Stuart on Friday 29 May, 2009 at 4:49 pm

  3. I don’t think the advertising was “free” – I would imagine that it cost Walkabout quite a hefty sum to commission, though arguably less than it would have cost for paid adverts in all those papers.

    I’m not sure whether I agree that the category that Dr Wilson omitted is “The Bullshitter” – it’s either that or “Captain Obvious”. Either way, it’s a pretty crappy study, and unsurprisingly, I can’t find where it was published. Got a feeling there’s probably a reason why I can’t find it in any academic journal, though…

    By Michael on Friday 29 May, 2009 at 5:36 pm

  4. Colin: Heh, frustrating day ;)

    Michael: You’re quite right of course, Walkabout certainly had to pay for the “research”. But like you say, I bet it was much, much cheaper than shelling out for ads.

    By Jacob Aron on Friday 29 May, 2009 at 6:44 pm

  5. This kind of thing happens all the time. I wrote about another case of it a while back.

    What angers me about this one is that the academic (if he still deserves to be called that) in question is fairly prominent. Generally, they hire some guy with a Bachelor’s degree to make up the research.

    By Neuroskeptic on Monday 1 June, 2009 at 9:54 am

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