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Eating Heavily: Men Eat More in the Company of Women

Kniffin, Kevin M., Sigirci, Ozge, & Wansink, Brian. (2015). Eating Heavily: Men Eat More in the Company of Women. Evolutionary Psychological Science, 2(1), 38-46. 10.1007/s40806-015-0035-3

In this Cornell Food & Brand Lab study, we found that men appear to eat more food when sharing a meal with women than with other men. Men even eat larger quantities of both unhealthy and healthy foods when they’re dining with women!

The study was conducted during lunch hours over a 2-week time period at an all-you-can-eat Italian restaurant. We observed a total of 105 adults, ranging in age from 18 to 81 years old. Among the 60 males participating in the study, 40 dined within groups that included at least one woman, while the other 20 men were seated with other men. Of the 45 women participating in the study, 35 dined within groups that included at least one man, while the other 10 dined with other women. Participants were met by a research assistant at the conclusion of their meal and asked to complete a survey that asked each of them to estimate the number of calories of pizza they consumed as well as their level of (dis)agreement on a nine-point scale with the statements “I overate,” “I felt rushed,” and “I am physically uncomfortable.”

Our results indicate that there was a significant main effect on males dining with females because they consumed significantly more pizza and more salad in larger quantities than the males dining with other males. Groups that included men and women tended to eat significantly more pizza as compared to groups who ate with the same sex. Men ate 93% more pizza and 86% more salad while dining in the company of women. In the case of female diners, our findings indicate that women significantly felt like they overate in the company of men and felt rushed.