What I’ve been up to – Spring 2017 edition

The big news is that the Club Soda Guide pilot project is now over. The Guide is still very much alive though, with over 250 venues signed-up so far, more joining every week, and the first batch of great places for mindful drinkers announced. We have also just released our evaluation report “Building a Mindful Drinking Movement” which has all the highlights from the project.

Non-alcoholic beers are becoming a bigger and bigger thing. Just the latest new entrant to the market is Nirvana, who have built the UK’s first dedicated low and no alcohol brewery in Leyton, east London. Their beers are very good, and they also do other fun stuff like non-alcoholic beer and yoga sessions. I also wrote a quick post about the five best non-alcoholic beers.

And low/no beers were a bit of a feature at Morning Advertiser’s MA500 pub event in Liverpool in May, where we were invited to talk about the Guide, and beer writer Pete Brown led a tasting of 0.5% beers and cider.

So that’s been the spring. The summer will mostly be taken by the organisation of UK’s first Mindful Drinking Festival that Club Soda is putting together in August, at Bermondsey Square. We are bringing together some of the best beers and wines under 0.5% abv as well as some great new soft drinks and even newer things like kombucha.

And we are also hoping to make some noise about the UK’s out-of-date labelling rules and regulations on low and no-alcohol drinks. It is an absolute mess at the moment, and so complicated that even lawyers are having a hard time figuring out what you can and can’t call “alcohol-free”.

Windsor Castle pub

Recent pub writings

We have been busy with the launch of Club Soda Guide, our listings site for the best licensed venues for mindful drinkers. A post at NudgingPubs tells the story in terms of innovation for and behaviour change with pubs.

Windsor Castle pubOver at the Guide website, I put together suggestions for pub crawls in the City and Hackney in three blog posts: Shoreditch and Old Street pub crawl routes, Dalston and Stoke Newington pub crawl routes, and City of London pub crawl routes. There is still a couple of these to follow in the next few weeks.

 

Irony is still alive

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that psychological studies on “priming” may have overstated the effects. It sounds plausible that thinking about words associated with old age might make someone walk slower afterwards for example, but as has been shown for many effects like this, they are nearly impossible to replicate.

Now Ulrich Schimmack, Moritz Heene, and Kamini Kesavan have dug a bit deeper into this, in a post at Replicability-Index titled “Reconstruction of a Train Wreck: How Priming Research Went off the Rails”. They analysed all studies cited in Chapter 4 of Daniel Kahneman’s book “Thinking Fast and Slow”. I’m also a big fan of the book, so this was interesting to read.

I’d recommend everyone with even a passing interest on these things to go and read the whole fascinating post. I’ll just note the authors’ conclusion: “…priming research is a train wreck and readers […] should not consider the presented studies as scientific evidence that subtle cues in their environment can have strong effects on their behavior outside their awareness.”

The irony is pointed out by Kahneman himself in his response: “there is a special irony in my mistake because the first paper that Amos Tversky and I published was about the belief in the “law of small numbers,” which allows researchers to trust the results of underpowered studies with unreasonably small samples.”

So nobody, absolutely nobody, can avoid biases in their thinking.

Guest blog on “Academic collaboration – a startup point of view”

I was asked to write a guest blog to University College London Centre for Behaviour Change‘s Digi-Hub. My brief was to talk about collaboration between businesses and academia, in particular from the point of view of a small startup company like Club Soda.

My post, which is part of a longer series of guest blogs, deals with evidence, evaluation, and the tension that working across organisational boundaries can create.

You can read the post here.

Guest blog on “Behaviour change for pubs and bars”

I was asked to write something for the Society for the Study of Addiction about our Nudging Pubs work in changing the behaviour of pubs and bars.

My guest post was on the two theoretical foundations of our project: a taxonomy of behaviour change tools, and a typology of nudges. The first is a UCL-led project, the second is from Cambridge University’s Behaviour and Health Research Unit.

Read the post at SSA’s website.

Beers, low and no (alcohol)

It’s been a bit beery recently. First, I wrote for the Club Soda blog about the low and no alcohol beers available in Finland. Things have moved on while I’ve been away, and the choice is really rather good these days, and the taste (mostly) very pleasing too.

And last week, for Nudging Pubs, I had a quick look at the number of lower alcohol beers on offer at the Great British Beer Festival, CAMRA’s annual real ale and cider celebration. In this case, I wasn’t very impressed…