The stereotypes behind how men and women eat can be pretty misleading. Men are often branded as “meat and potatoes” lovers, while women are pegged as ordering only salads — and we know neither of those things holds true for everyone. But, according to a new study, there may be one eating stereotype that actually has some merit: Men will eat more food around other men.
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The study, which looked at the way men eat when they are being watched, found that men linked their food consumption to an outward sign of their masculinity. Study co-author Kevin Kniffin told Fast Company: “Even if men aren’t thinking about it, eating more than a friend tends to be understood as a demonstration of virility and strength.”
Kniffin proved his findings by getting his subjects to eat chicken wings around other men in a typical setting and then having them eat around other men with people cheering, a la eating competitions. The study found that when men had people cheering for them they ate a surprising four times as much as they normally would.
The researchers weren’t able to pin down exactly why overeating is seen as a sign of virility by men, but they believe it might have more to do with pride than anything else, telling FWx, “In the end, this exhibitionist eating may say less about American eating habits and more about American ego habits.”
Fast Company points out that this isn’t particularly new information. The magazine cites one study showing that men eat and drink more if their waiter is fat, and a previous study by the same author that at an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet men manage to consume twice as much pizza when women are present than they do in an all-male situation.
Not surprisingly, women had a very different view on this study. Besides finding the men who overate in the tests unattractive, they also reacted very differently than the men when given the same test.
Fast Company reports that while men used phrases like “cool,” “exhilarating” and “really a rush” to describe how they felt when tasked with an eating showdown against another man, women used phrases like “a little bit embarrassing” and “self-conscious” to describe how they felt about the same thing.
So while we know that eating in social situations can skew how much you eat in a number of different ways, if you’re a man and you’re looking to lose weight — or maybe to catch the eye of a woman you fancy — it’s probably not a good idea let the urge to dominate via chicken-wing consumption get the best of you.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you find yourself overeating in the presence of other men? Do you experience a change in your eating habits in social situations? Do you ever have a tendency to overeat? Let us know in the comments.