The Science Of Being Served

There was an interesting little item in this month’s issue of Playboy, in the Raw Data section, that mentioned a “study of behaviors that get you served first in a crowded bar.” They found “that people standing square to the bar were served within 35 seconds 95% of the time.” Anyone have a read on how accurate that is, or whether you’ve noticed that it works? They also claimed that “eye contact was essential 86% of the time,” which makes some intuitive sense, at least.



  1. says

    I ranted about this to my Special Lady Friend when I read about the study a few months ago. To me the study design was deeply flawed. According to the article I read on it (not the study results themselves) they said the researchers observed the ones who had gotten served and then noted what they were doing just prior to being served….which means they didn’t note what all those people were who weren’t served were doing during all those seconds they weren’t being served. That’s pretty problematic, study-wise.

    Anecdotally, I’ve tried to do everything the researchers have said to do, square up the bar, attempt to make eye contact, being unwavering in my attention to the bar staff. I have noticed no improvement in my serve time, if anything, my heightened and unwavering attention has made me notice how long it takes me to get served at a crowded bar…thereby reducing my overall happiness.

    • says

      Yeah, that’s been my experience, too. I didn’t see a report on the study when it first came around. If you have a link or more info, would love to take a look. Cheers, J

      • says

        I think I read about it on a regular newsite (ABC, CNN). However, here is a link to the abstract (and from there you can get a link to the PDF, full report). Basically, on my reading, the researchers entered the experiment with the hope (and assumption) that visual cues mattered. They further assumed and hoped that specific, non-eye contact related cues would be important because, in their attempt to build a bartending robot, they didn’t want to add “complicated eye tracking” mechanisms. So they basically “proved” what they set out to prove. Why not just build a robot that responds to “Hey bartender”? That seems easy enough.

  2. beerman49 says

    Didn’t read any of the posted links, but my gut feeling tells me that the better way to have run that study would have been to talk to bartenders. If a bartender is working solo, it’s a crapshoot, especially if (s)he’s also filling server orders. From my innumerable experiences in such situations, it helps to “read the scene” as you approach the bar & figure out the best place to stand – you’ll guess wrong sometimes. Standing near server stations is a good start; between 2 people whose backs are to the bar (yakking w/friends) is another. Tipping big on the 1st drink never hurts, either, if you plan to have more than 1.

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