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Appetite. 2008 Jan;50(1):110-9. Epub 2007 Jun 26.

Is the desire to eat familiar and unfamiliar meat products influenced by the emotions expressed on eaters' faces?

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  • 1Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, UMR 1019, Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine d'Auvergne, 58 rue Montalembert, 63009 Clermont-Ferrand, France.


The aim of the present study was to test if the social context represented by eaters' faces expressing emotions can modulate the desire to eat meat, especially for unfamiliar meat products. Forty-four young men and women were presented with two series of photographs. The first series (non-social context) was composed of eight meat pictures, four unfamiliar and four familiar. The second series (social context) consisted of the same pictures presented with eaters expressing three different emotions: disgust, pleasure or neutrality. For every picture, the participants were asked to estimate the intensity of their desire to eat the meat product viewed on the picture. Results showed that meat desire depended on interactions between product familiarity, social context and the participant's gender. In the non-social context, the men liked the familiar meat products more than the women, whereas their desire to eat unfamiliar meat products was similar. Compared to the non-social context, viewing another person eating with a neutral and a happy facial expression increased the desire to eat. Furthermore, the increase in the desire to eat meat associated with happy faces was greater for the unfamiliar than for the familiar meat products in men, and greater for the familiar than for the unfamiliar meats in women. In the presence of disgusted faces, the desire to eat meat remained constant for unfamiliar products in all participants whereas it only decreased for familiar products in men.

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