Friday, August 6, 2010

Wine Drinkers: Beware The "Imbibing Idiot"

Scott Rick and Maurice Schweitzer could shake your world. The two professors will present research later this week that could, well, make you look like an idiot.

Rick, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, and Schweitzer, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, will present their research paper during the Academy of Management meeting in Montreal August 7-10. Their topic? Something that could frighten us all: the imbibing idiot bias.

The researchers found that in a series of experiments, more than 610 middle managers who read a résumé and viewed a photo of a hypothetical job applicant would be significantly less likely to hire if they were told the candidate ordered wine before dinner than if they were told the job-seeker ordered a soft drink.

In another experiement, student participants in a study who served as interviewers in a campus pub were given three questions to ask about a younger students' work background, the answers to which the undergraduates had committed to memory. The interviewee drank either soda or a non-alcoholic beverage that looked like beer, taking a sip each time the interviewer asked a question but giving the same answers no matter what they were drinking.

The result: Even though most of the interviewers were drinking beer, they rated the interviewees who appeared to be drinking beer significantly less suitable to hire even though the answers for all candidates were identical.

According to Rick and Schweitzer, there is an implicit association between alcohol and impaired thinking that they term the "imbibing idiot bias." The connection is stronger than most people expect and it isn't because your thinking is actually impaired by that glass or Merlot.

At Toledo Wines and Vines we're about to launch our own research project. I can tell you what the results will be beforehand. Wine drinkers will be found to have a zest for life, an appreciation for the finer things and be the definition of coolness. We plan on celebrating the research results with a glass of magificent wine! (Please don't say this confirms the results of the first study...)

Photo by Marty Fameless
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