The Science Behind Getting You Smashed Last Night

07.20.12 David Lumb

If the bar steadily pumps up the volume and speeds up the tempo, you’ll almost certainly get that third drink you were on the fence about. So says Wyatt Magnum, a professional music incubus who designs “music programs” to entice patrons into eating faster and drinking more. If you stroll into a restaurant and it’s pumping something at, say, 125 beats per minute, Magnum’s pretty sure you’re gonna eat and hustle far faster than normal. His claims seem to be backed by science!

In 1985, a study by Fairfield University in Connecticut reported that people ate faster when background music was sped up, from 3.83 to 4.4 bites per minute. Nicolas Gueguen, a professor of behavioral sciences at the Université de Bretagne-Sud in France, reported in the October 2008 edition of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research that higher volumes led beer drinkers in a bar to imbibe more. When the bar’s music was 72 decibels, people ordered an average of 2.6 drinks and took 14.5 minutes to finish one. But when the volume was turned up to 88 decibels, customers ordered an average of 3.4 drinks and took 11.5 minutes to finish each one.

Eateries and drinkeries in the city have been getting wise to this over the last decade and amping up the volume, says Curt Gathje, lead editor of stickers-in-the-window Zagat. In addition to seduction via audio sorcery, places are sculpting their environment toward young folks’ desire for clubby, dark, and loud places so they’ll feel like they’re “where it’s at” and care less about blowing their cash. Dear young folk: think about why you’re so eager to stick yourselves in loud caves where you can’t hear your date and things aren’t going too well but maybe they’d be going better if you got another margarita? Yeah. They got you too.

(Photo: William Ward/Flickr)