One of the most powerful influences on food intake yet identified is the presence of familiar others at an eating occasion: people eat much more when they eat with friends/family than when they eat alone. But why this is the case is unclear. Across two studies (Study 1: N = 98; Study 2: N = 120), we found that the mere anticipation of social interaction is all that is needed to promote the selection of larger meals, and that this occurs even when a person is alone when they make their decision. Adult women served themselves larger portions when they knew they were going to eat socially versus when they knew they were going to eat alone. These data suggest that how other people influence our food intake reaches beyond the specific eating context to affect pre-meal portion size decisions, suggesting that a fundamental shift is required in our thinking about social influences on eating.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research was funded by an ESRC Grant awarded to SH, JB, and LV. Project reference: ES/P01027X/1.
© 2021, The Author(s).