Research Article

Evolutionary Psychological Science

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 38-46

First online:

Eating Heavily: Men Eat More in the Company of Women

  • Kevin M. KniffinAffiliated withDyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University Email author 
  • , Ozge SigirciAffiliated withDyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University
  • , Brian WansinkAffiliated withDyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University

Abstract

Sexual selection has been commonly considered by evolutionary psychologists interested in eating disorders among women; however, comparable attention has not been paid to problematic eating by men. We present the results of a field study through which we find that men eat more food when sharing a meal with women than with men. Notably, men appear to eat larger quantities of both unhealthy (pizza) and healthy (salad) food when in the company of women. More specifically, men eating with women ate 93% more pizza (1.44 more slices) and 86% more salad. Additionally, while women do not eat significantly differently as a function of the sex of their dining partners, women eating with men tended to estimate themselves to have eaten more and reported feeling like they were rushed and overate. In addition to expanding upon previous research concerning women’s eating behaviors, our findings concerning male overconsumption in the presence of women appear to present an example of self-handicap behavior.

Keywords

Eating Sexual selection Self-handicap behavior Costly signaling Obesity