Social matching of food intake and the need for social acceptance.

Eric Robinson, T Tobias, L Shaw, E Freeman, Suzanne Higgs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Citations (Scopus)


In a social eating context individuals tend to match their food intake to that of eating companions, regardless of whether the other person is eating a large amount. However, relatively little is known about the underlying processes of food intake matching. Findings from behavioural mimicry research suggest that individuals may copy how those around them act in order to facilitate social interactions and ingratiate themselves. The present paper reports two studies which were designed to examine whether ingratiation strategies may in part explain social matching of food intake in young females. In Study 1, female dyads completed a problem solving task together whilst having access to chocolate M&M's. We hypothesised that the extent to which individuals have a need to be socially accepted (trait self esteem) and are competent in social interactions (trait empathy) would predict the degree of matching. In Study 2 we directly manipulated the desire to ingratiate by priming social acceptance in half of participants prior to eating popcorn in the presence of a high eating confederate. In Study 1, both self esteem and empathy were associated with degree of matching within female dyads. In Study 2, priming social acceptance reduced the matching effect in females. These findings suggest that desire for social acceptance may be an underlying cause of social matching of food intake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-752
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Social matching of food intake and the need for social acceptance.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this