Size and shape of plates and size of wine glasses and bottles: impact on self-serving of food and alcohol

BMC Psychol. 2021 Oct 20;9(1):163. doi: 10.1186/s40359-021-00645-z.


Background: The physical properties of tableware could influence selection and consumption of food and alcohol. There is considerable uncertainty, however, around the potential effects of different sizes and shapes of tableware on how much food and alcohol people self-serve. These studies aimed to estimate the impact of: 1. Plate size and shape on amount of food self-served; 2.Wine glass and bottle size on amount of wine self-poured.

Methods: 140 adults participated in two laboratory studies-each using randomised within-subjects factorial designs-where they self-served food (Study 1) and wine (Study 2): Study 1: 3 plate sizes (small; medium; large) × 2 plate shapes (circular; square). Study 2: 3 wine glass sizes (small; medium; large) × 2 wine bottle sizes (75 cl; 50 cl).

Results: Study 1: There was a main effect of plate size: less was self-served on small (76 g less, p < 0.001) and medium (41 g less, p < 0.001) plates, compared to large plates. There was no evidence for a main effect of plate shape (p = 0.46) or a size and shape interaction (p = 0.47). Study 2: There was a main effect of glass size: less was self-served in small (34 ml less, p < 0.001) and medium (17 ml less, p < 0.001) glasses, compared to large glasses. There was no evidence of a main effect of bottle size (p = 0.20) or a glass and bottle size interaction (p = 0.18).

Conclusions: Smaller tableware (i.e. plates and wine glasses) decreases the amount of food and wine self-served in an initial serving. Future studies are required to generate estimates on selection and consumption in real world settings when numerous servings are possible. Protocol registration information: OSF ( ) and ISRCTN ( ).

Keywords: Alcohol; Food; Plates; Size intervention; Wine bottles; Wine glasses.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Humans
  • Wine* / analysis

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN66774780