Friday 12 April 2024

Women Eating Less When Dining With Men?

Young et al. (2009) observed students in naturalistic settings, i.e., in university cafeterias. Results show that women chose food of significantly lower caloric value (540 calories) when eating with a male companion (date situation). Eating with a group of men meant even lower calories (450). The food chosen was higher in calories (670 calories) when dining with another woman and even higher (750) when eating with a group of women. Allen-O-Donnell et al. (2011) came to similar conclusions.

Men, according to the study carried out by Young et al. (2009) were not affected by the gender of their dining companions (via and via). Allen-O'Donnell et al.'s (2011) findings suggest an inverse impact. In other words, men eating with women purchase more calories than those eating with men (via). According to a study published in 2015, males dining with females consume significantly more than males dining with males. Interestingly, the "sex of a female's eating partner did not significantly influence" how much food was consumed (Kniffin, Sigirci & Wansink, 2016).

In a naturalistic study, we investigated the influence of gender, group size and gender composition of groups of eaters on food selected for lunch and dinner (converted to total calories per meal) of 469 individuals (198 groups) in three large university cafeterias. In dyads, women observed eating with a male companion chose foods of significantly lower caloric value than those observed eating with another woman. Overall, group size was not a significant predictor of calories, but women's calories were negatively predicted by numbers of men in the group, while the numbers of women in the group had a marginally significant positive impact on calorie estimates. Men's calorie totals were not affected by total numbers of men or women. This study supports previous investigations, but is unique in making naturalistic observations. (Young et al., 2009)

"It is possible that small food portions signal attractiveness, and women conform, whether consciously or unconsciously, to small meals in order to be seen as more attractive,"
Meredith Young

"The theory is you're more aware of gender when you're with the opposite gender and may want to prove your gender more."
Marci Cottingham

Male and female subjects read a food diary attributed to a male or female target who was portrayed as eating either a small breakfast and lunch or a large breakfast and lunch. Consistent with the hypothesis that amount eaten would more strongly affect subjects' inferences about the female target, ratings of the male target were not differentially influenced by the meal size manipulation. In contrast, subjects considered the female target who ate smaller meals to be significantly more feminine, less masculine, more concerned about her appearance, better looking, and more likely to possess stereotypically feminine personality traits. (Chaiken & Pliner, 1987)

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- Allen-O''Donnell, M., Cottingham, M. D. Nowak, T. C. & Snyder, K. A. (2011). Impact of Group Settings and Gender on Meals Purchased by College Students, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41(9), 2268-2283.
- Chaiken, S. & Pliner, P. (1987). Women, but not Men, Are What They Eat: The Effect of Meal Size and Gender on Perceived Femininity and Masculinity, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 13(2), link
- Kniffin, K. M., Sigirci, O. & Wansink, B. (2016). Eating Heavily: Men Eat More in the Compnay of Women. Evolutionary Pschological Science, 2, 38-46.
- Young, M. E., Mizzau, M., Mai, N. T., Sirisegaram, A. & Wilson, M. (2009). Food for thought. What you eat depends on your sex and eating companions. Appetite, 53(2), link
- photograph (Penny Anderson and her mother, 1971, (c) The Ann Arbor News) via