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Alcohol Alcohol. 2018 May 1;53(3):228-234. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agx084.

Perfect for a Gin and Tonic: How Context Drives Consumption Within a Modified Bogus Taste Test.

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Department of Psychology, Edge Hill University, St Helens Rd, Ormskirk L39 4QP, UK.



To implement a modified bogus taste test (BTT) and to examine the interactive effects of environmental and social contexts on levels of 'alcohol' consumption.


University students (Study 1 n = 38, Study 2 n = 80), recruited via opportunity sampling, completed a modified BTT under the pretence of assessing garnish preference for gin and tonic. All participants were tested alone or as part of an existing friendship group. In Study 1 participants were in a laboratory setting but were exposed to different contextual cues (alcohol-related or neutral) by way of posters displayed on the walls. In Study 2, participants assessed the drinks in either a pub or a library setting.


In Study 1 participants tested in a group consumed significantly more when exposed to pub-related stimuli in contrast to those who were exposed to library-related stimuli. Participants who were alone and exposed to library-related cues consumed significantly more than those in a group and exposed to these cues. In Study 2, as in Study 1, participants tested in a group condition consumed significantly more of what they believed to be alcohol when in the pub compared to those who were tested in the library. Higher group consumption was also evident in the library condition, although the size of this difference was not as large as in the pub testing condition.


In the absence of any pharmacological effects of alcohol, social and environmental context have an interactive impact on shaping consumption.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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