Essay on Eating in a Social Context

Essay on Eating in a Social Context

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When eating takes place in a social context, people tend to eat more than they usually eat when the individual is alone. The quantity of food eaten by an individual is positively associated with the amount of people present (de Castro, J.M, 1994). Using the example of Esma- a girl of normal body weight who has recently been invited to a birthday dinner with her boyfriend and people whom she is not familiar with- the purpose of this essay is to determine how eating in a social situation with other people encourages an individual to eat more than when eating alone. This occurs due to a number of influential factors, such as; social facilitation and social approval. Furthermore, this essay will not only show how being in a social setting encourages an individual to eat more but also how lack of trait empathy can influence a person to eat less in a social setting.

Social facilitation research indicates that when an individual is accompanied by others, it effects the amount of food they eat (Roel C. Hermans, 2012). Peter C. Herman and Deborah A. Roth (2003) conducted studies and found that in social facilitation, individuals were more prone to eating more in groups rather than when they are alone. When people are in the presence of food and are not quite hungry, they will look for signals from the environment and their surroundings to help them establish when they should stop eating. In Esmas case, she is a girl of average weight who has gone out to a birthday dinner for her boyfriends’ friend. She does not know anyone else other than her boyfriend and his friend. Being in that social situation, Esma would mirror everyone else because she wants to fit in. Mimicry is a rather vital form of social interaction (Walten, 2012). We, as h...


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between Eating Companions. doi: http://10.1371/journal.pone.0031027

Patel KA, Schlundt DG (2001) Impact of moods and social context on eating behavior.
Appetite 36: 111–118. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/appe.2000.0385


Hermans RCJ, Larsen JK, Herman CP, Engels RCME (2009) Modeling of palatable food
intake. The influence of quality of social interaction. Appetite 52: 801–804.
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2009.03.008


Herman, P. C. (2003). Effects of the Presence of Others on Food Intake: A Normative Interpretation. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 873-886.
doi: http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/0033-2909.129.6.873

Dube, A. R., & Stanton, C. A. (2010). The Social Context of Dietary Behaviors: The Role of Social Relationships and Support on Dietary Fat and Fiber Intake. doi:10.1007/978-1-60327-571-2_2



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