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Physiol Behav. 2017 Oct 1;179:23-29. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.05.022. Epub 2017 May 19.

The "social" facilitation of eating without the presence of others: Self-reflection on eating makes food taste better and people eat more.

Author information

1
Graduate School of Information Science, Nagoya University, Japan.
2
Graduate School of Information Science, Nagoya University, Japan. Electronic address: kawai@is.nagoya-u.ac.jp.

Abstract

Food tastes better and people eat more of it when eaten with company than alone. Although several explanations have been proposed for this social facilitation of eating, they share the basic assumption that this phenomenon is achieved by the existence of co-eating others. Here, we demonstrate a similar "social" facilitation of eating in the absence of other individuals. Elderly participants tasted a piece of popcorn alone while in front of a mirror (which reflects the participant themselves eating popcorn) or in front of a wall-reflecting monitor, and were found to eat more popcorn and rate it better tasting in the self-reflecting condition than in the monitor condition. Similar results were found for younger adults. The results suggest that the social facilitation of eating does not necessarily require the presence of another individual. Furthermore, we observed a similar "social" facilitation of eating even when participants ate a piece of popcorn in front of a static picture of themselves eating, suggesting that static visual information of "someone" eating food is sufficient to produce the "social" facilitation of eating.

KEYWORDS:

Eating alone; Eating with others; Elderly adults; Mirror; Social facilitation

PMID:
28528894
DOI:
10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.05.022
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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