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Loud Music Can Make You Think Your Alcohol Tolerance is Stronger

Sep 30, 2016 10:02 PM EDT

A new research has determined that sounds can greatly affect how we think our alcohol tolerance could be. In a paper published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, researchers were originally trying to find out if which kind of sounds can change the perception of one's taste of a drink, but what they found is more interesting.

When they developed the study, the researchers were gunning for answers regarding changes in a person's perception of taste of a particular drink. They conducted an experiment wherein they served identical beers to 340 participants while listening to two taste-inducing soundtracks. While the researchers found that sounds indeed changed the perception of taste of the participants, they were also surprised that it extended to the participants' view of how strong their beers were.

For that experiment, the participants were given Belgian beers because of "higher perceived quality and range of flavor experiences." Beers such as triple and Belgian ale -- both are associated with bitter and/or sour tastes rather than sweet.Interestingly, the participants perceived that beers with bitter and sour tastes are more alcoholic than they were in reality, as they actually have less alcoholic content.

"What we learned is that people rely on dominant attributes to rate the strength of beer,"said lead researcher, Felipe Carvalho of Vrije Universiteit Brussel." One possible explanation is that people are generally poor at estimating alcohol content of beers by means of taste cues. Therefore, high-impact flavour (such as hoppiness/bitterness in the case of beer) might have been used as proxies for alcohol content."

Sounds can affect our way of consuming food. A previous study mentioned that "sound influences everything." A paper published in the Journal of Sensory Studies in 2010 stated that sounds can influence what we eat, how much we consume it, and the rate of how we eat it. That is why chocolate seems to be sweeter when you hear a taste-enticing music

Carvalho said that now that they have results, they want to customize sounds based on the information they gathered. He said, "Imagine that sound could eventually allow you to enjoy a beer with low levels of alcohol, without losing the pleasure of perceiving such beer as a strong-flavored one. Belgians, for example, are used to drinking beers with lots of body and alcoholic strength. Perhaps sounds would allow them to drink less strong beers, without losing the quality of their experience."

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