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Your Friends May Be Influencing How You Eat At The Dinner Table

| Filed under: FoodScience!

Eating study

It's no secret that human beings are easily influenced by others, but did U know that you may be mimicking your dining partners eating habits at the dinner table?

A study of college-aged women of normal weight revealed they were likely to modulate their eating according to the eating pace of their same-sex dining partner.

In the experiment, 7 young women were paired with 7 co-eaters at a lab restaurant which was rigged with all sorts of hidden cameras to give researchers an unobstructed view of the action at the dinner table.

Unaware of what purpose the study held, co-eaters were instructed to eat a small, medium, or large amount of the food during the full meal while both participants' total number of bites, total amount of food consumed (in grams), plus exact time they each took a bite was logged.

The data revealed that the women were more likely to take a bite when their eating partner did AND they were likely to consume the same amount of food.

Inneresting, right?

If the way we eat is influenced by someone eating across the table from us, it makes you wonder how much other people influence every other aspect of your life too!

Researchers behind the behavioral experiment offered a couple explanations as to why the subjects would influence one another. It's possible the women were mimicking when to eat and how much to eat in an effort to consume what is considered an appropriate amount, explaining:

“Adjusting one’s bites to that of others might be another solution (next to adjusting one’s overall intake) to guard against overindulgence and to avoid the negative stereotypes that are associated with eating inappropriately.”

At the same time, researchers suggest that watching someone take a bite of food could activate the “perception-behavior expressway” and subconciously encourage the exact same behavior.

Both explanations make sense to us. Have U noticed yourself or others engaging in this same type of mimicking behavior? Play around with this experiment yourself and take note of how others eat in your presence or you eat in theirs.

[Image via WENN.]

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