"Obesity is obviously a tremendous public health concern," write authors Brent McFerran, Darren W. Dahl (both University of British Columbia), Gavan J. Fitzsimons (Duke University), and Andrea C. Morales (Arizona State University). "We decided to investigate how someone's size and food choices could influence how much the people around them eat."
The researchers recruited 210 college students to participate in a study that was ostensibly about movie watching. The participants were told they would be paired with another student taking place in the study. The other student was actually a member of the research team whose natural build was thin (size 0, 105 pounds). But at times this same researcher donned an "obesity prosthesis," which made her appear to be a size 16 and 180 pounds.
All of the students were offered snacks while viewing film clips. The undercover researcher was served first, and helped herself to either a large or small serving before the student participant was offered the same bowl of food. In all cases, the amount of food the students accepted was influenced by the portion size chosen by the undercover researcher, regardless of her size.
"Most participants took a portion similar to what the researcher served herself," the authors explain. "However, it is clear that how much food each person took, and how much they ate depended on whether their companion was thin or obese."
Participants tended to mimic the thin companion's portion sizes. But when they presumed the researcher to be obese, the participants adjusted the amounts they ate. "This indicates that people are influenced, even without being aware of it, by other people's portion choices," the authors write.
"Our findings indicate that the size of the person you dine with matters much less than the size of the meal they order," the authors write. "If a heavy-set colleague eats a lot, you are likely to adjust your behavior and eat less. But a thin friend who eats a lot may lead you to eat more than you normally would."
Brent McFerran, Darren W. Dahl, Gavan J. Fitzsimons, and Andrea C. Morales. "I'll have What She's Having: Effects of Social Influence and Body Type on the Food Choices of Others." Journal of Consumer Research: April 2010 (published online August 25, 2009).
Mary-Ann Twist | EurekAlert!
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
Urbanization to convert 300,000 km2 of prime croplands
27.12.2016 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction