Loud Music = Heavier, Faster Drinking
If you go into a bar or pub that plays loud music, do you find that you drink more?
A French professor of behavioral sciences at the Université de Bretagne-Sud concluded from research conducted in two bars that louder music leads patrons to drink more in a shorter period of time. This may be due to two reasons:
- lounder, faster music leads to higher arousal which causes faster drinking
- loud music interferes with social interaction; patrons talk less, so they drink more
While the study is not scientific, anecdotally, I am inclined to agree with the conclusions. The effects of music on human behaviour has been extensively studied. It has been shown that appropriate music can create a mood that may make people more inclined to buy something than if it were inappropriate or completely absent.
While this might be a good thing for bar owners, Professor Guéguen rightly points out that it can lead to greater problems with drinking and driving. Therefore, he would like to see owners turn down the music to moderate patrons’ drinking.
In pubs, this is not the only problem. In ‘The blanding of Britain: The murder of the English pub‘ in the Daily Mail, author Paul Kingsnorth described the forces at work in Britain that are leading to the decline of the pub as a social focal point. One of those is the spread of vertical drinking establishments that:
…have no chairs (the more you sit, the slower you drink), few tables or flat surfaces (if you can’t put your glass down, you’re likely to drink faster), and music so loud you can’t hear yourself speak (so you drink instead).
The article contains a staged promotional photo of one of these places that is rather unrealistic because the place would normally be so loud that socializing of the sort depicted might only be possible when the place is slow. Even then, I’ve been in Hugo’s in Victoria when there were only about ten people in the place, including the staff, and the music was mind-numbing. If you tried carrying on a conversation for a period of time, your voice would definitely be hoarse the next morning.
What the photo in the Daily Mail article also shows is that everyone is young. They are of the age where there is a tendency towards excessive drinking. I was certainly that way when I was their age. Go down to Vancouver’s Granville entertainment district on a weekend and you’ll see the same. If you go into one of the vertical drinking establishments on the strip, you may find that they carry strictly mass market beer (predominantly lager) and typically offer it to you in the bottle — not a good way to appreciate a beer.
Perhaps I’m getting old. But if I want to enjoy a beer, I want to do so in a relaxed atmosphere amongst my friends with the music adding ambience in the background. If I want to go dancing, I don’t mind loud, pulsating music as long as the club has a place where you retreat to chat with your partner and not have to yell at them. A fixation on profit maximization puts both in peril.