Social Behavior

The Scientifically Proven Method To Get Your Bartender's Attention

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Friday night! Time to hit the bars. And wait for the bartender to notice you so you can order. And wait. And wait. What gives? Never fear, night owls: as it turns out, there's a scientifically proven method to getting served quickly at the bar.

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Your Bartender Doesn't Hate You (Probably)

You're not the only one who has trouble getting a busy bartender's attention. It's so common that psychologists have investigated the phenomenon. In a 2013 study, German researchers recorded real-life interactions between bar patrons and their bartenders. After watching the various signals that patrons used to grab bartenders' attention, they identified the most effective ones: "The results revealed that bar staff responded to a set of two non-verbal signals: first, customers position themselves directly at the bar counter and, secondly, they look at a member of staff." The researchers then replicated these results by using a robotic bartender. The robot clearly detected these social signals in a noisy, crowded room and promptly took their drink orders. No word on how it fared at listening to relationship woes, but we assume good things.

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What Doesn't Work?

Both the positioning and eye contact were necessary for getting a drink, and the two signals worked sufficiently when used together. Other methods, such as gestures and speech, were unnecessary and often unsuccessful. What does this mean? Stop yelling at your bartender or waving money in his or her face. Instead, simply walk up to the bar, make eye contact, and order that extra dirty gin martini (a personal favorite). And don't forget to tip!

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