30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

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30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:11 pm

Do I look suave with this wine?

If you've been sipping wine because you think it makes you look more suave and sophisticated than coffee, tea or milk, you may want to re-evaluate that, at least if you're looking for a job, a team of U.S. business and management researchers says.

According to a study covered in a recent Reuters news agency report (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6784H120100809), job applicants who drink alcohol are perceived as less intelligent and less hirable by American bosses.

In a series of six related experiments, researchers found that if a potential supervisor perceived any association with alcohol in the job seeker, this discovery prompted the boss to "expect cognitive impairment" in the candidate. In other words, the alcohol created a built-in bias that the job seeker was less intelligent than a non-drinking applicant.

Perhaps grasping for a headline-worthy title, the researchers dubbed this prejudice "the imbibing idiot bias."

"Merely holding an alcoholic beverage may reduce the perceived intelligence of the person," researchers Scott Rick and Maurice Schweitzer wrote in the study presented to the Academy of Management's recent annual meeting.

One experiment invited 610 middle managers to evaluate a video in which actors played a manager and a prospective hire meeting over dinner. In some of the mock interviews, the manager ordered "Coke" or "the house Merlot." The job seeker also ordered either a soft drink or the wine.

Regardless of the manager's order, the observers judged the Merlot-sipping job seekers as less worthy of being hired and less "intelligent, scholarly and intellectual." Job seekers who ordered wine after the manager asked for a Coke were "especially punished" with low ratings for perceived intelligence.

Rick, a professor of marketing at the University of Michigan, said he had just completed a round of interviews for academic jobs when he and Schweitzer, of the University of Pennsylvania, began brainstorming about testing the ways in which drinking affects the way Americans are seen by .

Rick said he was recently job seeking and was in some social settings where he and those evaluating him had drinks. "I chose alcohol often, and there were a lot of interviews with jobs that I didn't get," he said. "Now I wonder about that choice."

Here's a link to an abstract of the original paper and, if you wish, download a PDF of the full report from SSRN: Rick, Scott and Schweitzer, Maurice E., The Imbibing Idiot Bias: Merely Holding an Alcoholic Beverage Can Be Hazardous to Your (Perceived) Intelligence.
http://ssrn.com/abstract=1623056

What do you think? Discuss it on our forum

Tell us your opinion. Does this study make sense, or does your experience suggest otherwise? My immediate response is that I wouldn't want to work for a company whose executives made knee-jerk decisions like this anyway, but then, I'm not looking for a job.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Tim York » Fri Aug 20, 2010 3:58 am

My first reaction was that this is sheer unthinking prejudice but then I remembered that I have just that knee-jerk reflection when I see people smoking or buying cigarettes.

On alcohol, since the mid-1990s there has been pretty generally accepted that alcohol and work don't make a good mix and that therefore the taking of an alcohol drink should be confined to after-work hours. IMHO an exception to this is when deal-making and here I believe that sharing relaxed wine lubricated lunches can help to induce good relations and trust between counter-parties. However, from the 90s, I wouldn't have tried it when dealing with Americans or even Brits, unless I knew their tastes very well.

So, without reflection on an interviewee's intellectual capacities, I do think that it would show a lack of judgement nowadays for that person to drink alcohol in an interview situation.

Luckily for Britain, these prejudices did not exist in the 1940s. Winston Churchill, whose intelligence and powers of application were undoubted, was reputed to start the day with a small brandy and continued to imbibe regularly throughout the day. Nowadays he would be considered an alcoholic and would not be considered for high office.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby JC (NC) » Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:23 am

Of course they are perceived as having lower intelligence--they are ordering Merlot instead of Pinot Noir1
Seriously, I occasionally get an orange soft drink from the vending machines at work but other than that almost never drink soft drinks any more. Coke with dinner sounds repulsive. If I were foregoing a glass of wine, I would order unsweetened ice tea with lemon or maybe coffee at lunch time or decaf coffee after dinner.

That said, it is probably smart of the interviewee to take their cue from the interviewer and order a non-alcoholic beverage if the interviewer does.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Rahsaan » Fri Aug 20, 2010 10:30 am

Tim York wrote:Winston Churchill, whose intelligence and powers of application were undoubted, was reputed to start the day with a small brandy and continued to imbibe regularly throughout the day. Nowadays he would be considered an alcoholic and would not be considered for high office.


Or, nowadays he would blend in with society's norms, just as he did during the 40s. The question is whether he would be any less intelligent without the brandy and other drinks. Probably not.

But, more broadly, someone of his temperament may or may not be attracted to politics today. That is also a legitimate question. But he'd have to search pretty hard to find another profession where such drinking was tolerated today.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Glenn Mackles » Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:36 am

What we have learned here is that you drinking wine lowers the intelligence of the hiring manager.
"If you can find something everyone agrees on, it's wrong." Mo Udall
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby pennyaline » Fri Aug 20, 2010 12:05 pm

"So, without reflection on an interviewee's intellectual capacities, I do think that it would show a lack of judgement nowadays for that person to drink alcohol in an interview situation."

I agree that alcohol should be avoided during an interview situation. But some of these scenarios were social situations where applicants and interviewers just happened to be in the same place at the same time. And even if the interviewer was having an alcoholic beverage in this social situation, he or she would judge the applicant negatively if the applicant had alcohol as well.

The interviewers are judging applicants' by glimpses of their personal lives and not their references or abilities to do the job, and they are applying a double standard to do it.

Frankly, I'm with Groucho Marx. I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member, and I wouldn't work for any short-sighted clown who will enjoy good wine while denigrating me for doing the same.
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Whose Intelligence?

Postby Dan Smothergill » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:06 pm

I know of no empirical research showing that normal drinking is related to lower intelligence. On the other hand, there is a sense in which a boss might "expect cognitive impairment" in anyone who drinks. Although a bit off the wall this would at least be consistent with the robust finding that virtually any alcohol consumption brings about measurable impairments in attention and memory short term. My own belief however is that something else is going on here. What the findings suggest to me is an anti-alcohol ethos so strong that any sign of drinking in a job applicant is seen as a risk to both the company and, more importantly, the careers of those in charge of hiring. Why take an unnecessary risk? It might only come back to bite you. If that's "intelligence" that's the only thing the studies show about it.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Jon Peterson » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:44 pm

What should I say when applying for that sommelier position after I retire from my good gov'ment job? :?
I just wanted to inform you that I find you to be very attractive. Thank you and have a nice day.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:22 pm

I'm confused. Anyone ordering 'the house Merlot' probably isn't very bright, so aren't the HR people right?
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Keith M » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:26 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:I'm confused. Anyone ordering 'the house Merlot' probably isn't very bright, so aren't the HR people right?

Depends on the house, no? Somehow I think if someone found themselves at À Côté and found a merlot on the list, ordering it would probably not be a dull experience . . .
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:39 pm

Keith M wrote:
Oliver McCrum wrote:I'm confused. Anyone ordering 'the house Merlot' probably isn't very bright, so aren't the HR people right?

Depends on the house, no? Somehow I think if someone found themselves at À Côté and found a merlot on the list, ordering it would probably not be a dull experience . . .


If you find a Merlot on their list, I'll give you a dollar. He thinks Barbera is too boring and normal.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Keith M » Fri Aug 20, 2010 3:01 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:If you find a Merlot on their list, I'll give you a dollar. He thinks Barbera is too boring and normal.

One dollar please . . .

merlot, Feotto dello Jato, “Rosso di Turi”

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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Fri Aug 20, 2010 3:52 pm

I owe you a dollar. Plus I owe Jeff a hard time.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Bob H » Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:19 pm

"Cognitive impairment" belongs to smokers IMO
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby ClarkDGigHbr » Sat Aug 21, 2010 2:30 am

Was the interviewer a funny looking guy with pointy hair? This sounds too much like a Dilbert situation.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Brian Gilp » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:05 pm

I am not sure why this is comes across as a shock. Every aspect of a person is under scrutiny when seeking a job. Its not just wine. Smoking as noted will send off warning signs as will being overweight, visible ink, jewlery that is too flashy, and many other signs that people process. I have met folks who make a very good living as consultants whose job it is to sit in interviews to gain insight into the prospective employees personality and to provide those insights to the company after the interview. She told me that the companies that hire her are as (if not more) concerned with ensuring that the personallity fits into the company as they are with the individual being qualified to do the work.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:12 pm

All true, Brian, but the quirk that hooked me - and I think maybe many of us - was that the observers downgraded the applicant for taking wine, EVEN WHEN THE INTERVIEWER WAS DOING THE SAME. There's a certain sense of injustice that comes across here.

Secondarily, for me, while several of the "warning signs" you mention are non-controversial to most people, I'm inclined to the opinion that judging a person negatively for moderate wine consumption in a social setting tells us more about the judge than the judged. To some extent, the Groucho rule applies for me: I don't think I'd want to work for a company where the executives wear a Puritanical streak.

Brian Gilp wrote:I am not sure why this is comes across as a shock. Every aspect of a person is under scrutiny when seeking a job. Its not just wine. Smoking as noted will send off warning signs as will being overweight, visible ink, jewlery that is too flashy, and many other signs that people process. I have met folks who make a very good living as consultants whose job it is to sit in interviews to gain insight into the prospective employees personality and to provide those insights to the company after the interview. She told me that the companies that hire her are as (if not more) concerned with ensuring that the personallity fits into the company as they are with the individual being qualified to do the work.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Brian Gilp » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:40 pm

Robin Garr wrote:All true, Brian, but the quirk that hooked me - and I think maybe many of us - was that the observers downgraded the applicant for taking wine, EVEN WHEN THE INTERVIEWER WAS DOING THE SAME. There's a certain sense of injustice that comes across here.


I had originally written and then deleted a second paragraph about this point. It has been my experience that people generally view behaviors in others differently than they do in themselves. Using the wine example, I know how I approach wine and how I manage it as part of a normal lifestyle. I don't know you so I am more inclined to assume that you have problems where I do not. In a way its similar to managing a group that is geographically distributed. If I see John and Mary every day and I know they are working hard I am more willing to try to find a way to reward them in good times and keep them during tough times but Mark and Kati work in another location and I don't see them and therefore I assume they don't work as hard or are as smart as John and Mary and ultimately I don't fight as hard for them.

Robin Garr wrote:Secondarily, for me, while several of the "warning signs" you mention are non-controversial to most people, I'm inclined to the opinion that judging a person negatively for moderate wine consumption in a social setting tells us more about the judge than the judged.


I don't disagree. Having been back on Campus in the past couple years recruiting I have seen the reaction of my peers at potential job applicants that had arms full of tats.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:44 pm

Brian Gilp wrote:It has been my experience that people generally view behaviors in others differently than they do in themselves. Using the wine example, I know how I approach wine and how I manage it as part of a normal lifestyle.

I think Burns got that right about three centuries ago. ;)

O wad some Power the giftie gie us.
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us.
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Re: 30 Second Wine Advisor: Do I look suave with this wine?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:19 pm

Funny perhaps, but if I were interviewing people over a meal I would judge not whether they drink wine but how they drink it...... that is to say, do they know the etiquette involved, how to hold the glass, how much they drink. With the wine drinker I might even ask a few questions about the wine, that not so much to test their wine knowledge but to see whether they are bluffers or not. Much the same in judging whether the person knows how to handle their napkin, how they relate to waitstaff, if they are familiar with dining etiquette.

And no, I would not hold it against a person if he or she did not drink wine or a cocktail even though I did. I might however ask why they chose not to drink wine. A way of measuring how people explain themselves.

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