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Eating a meal is associated with elevations in agreeableness and reductions in dominance and submissiveness
- aan het Rot, Marije, Moskowitz, D.S., Hsu, Zoe Y., Young, Simon N.
- Physiology & behavior 2015 v.144 pp. 103-109
- emotions, filling period, food intake, gender, ingestion, women
- Many studies have shown that having a meal together with others increases food intake. In contrast, the effects of having a meal on interactions with others have rarely been examined. More specifically, it is unknown if having a social interaction during a meal alters how people feel, behave, and perceive others.In the present study, 98 working individuals provided information on their everyday social interactions over a three-week period by filling in a form soon after each interaction. Record forms included items representing mood state, interpersonal behaviors, and perceptions of interaction partners. Participants also indicated whether interactions took place during a meal.Engaging in an interaction that involved eating a meal was associated with decreased alertness and, particularly in women, with increased pleasant affect, compared to interactions that did not involve eating a meal. Independently of this, during a meal participants reported fewer dominant and submissive behaviors and more agreeable behaviors, and also perceived interaction partners as more agreeable. These results were largely independent of contextual factors such as the gender and role of the primary social interaction partner, the presence of multiple partners, and the location of the interaction.Overall, social interactions during a meal were more positive in terms of how people felt, behaved, and perceived others. At the same time, agentic behaviors were reduced. These results suggest that shared meals are events in which affiliative bonds are strengthened in the context of weakened displays of hierarchy.