Friday, November 11, 2011

Study Says Some People Are Over-Eating To Feel More Important

A new study says that people may be super-sizing their meals in search of higher social status. People are eating larger food portions, and the cause may be the eaters' desire to convince others of their high social standing, according to a study by researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois and the French business school École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris, to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Researchers performed a number of experiments to learn why people of lower social status overeat despite knowing about the unhealthy consequences. In one experiment, participants at a café judged others who bought larger-sized coffees as being of higher status, even when all coffee sizes had the same price. In other experiments, participants who felt powerless chose larger-sized bagel pieces than others who didn't—and they drank larger smoothies when at a social event than when dining alone.

Study authors theorize that since Western culture associates bigger houses, cars and T.V.’s with prosperity and higher social status, people have come to make the same association with food. In addition, vulnerable consumers may seek to pump up their status in order to compensate for their undesirable social standing and as a way to respond to daily threats, researchers explained. "This research further proposes that the tendency to use the size of food options within an assortment will be particularly strong among those consumers who feel powerless," they added.


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