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Study Finds That People Mimic Eating Behavior Of Dining Partners, For Better Or Worse

February 2, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Dutch and Canadian researchers have determined that eating behaviors – both positive and negative – can be influenced by the behavior of dining partners. Seventy female students participated in the study, dining in an imitation restaurant with a female companion whom they had not met before. Both women in every couple tended to synchronize their bites with their eating companion rather than eating at their own pace. The subconscious mimicry behavior is a way to make an impression or ingratiate yourself, particularly when just becoming acquainted, the researchers said. The finding could be used in the war against obesity: eating behavior can be influenced without people realizing it, and that knowledge could help change harmful eating patterns.
Roel C. J. Hermans et al., "Mimicry of Food Intake: The Dynamic Interplay between Eating Companions", PLoS ONE, February 02, 2012, © Hermans et al.
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