Gorging at a holiday meal or a BBQ might have more to do with men’s ego than the quality of food, as eating more than friends is seen as a show of virility and strength, a new study has found. Researchers recruited college aged students of similar weight to participate in either a competitive chicken wing eating challenge with cheering spectators, or a competitive chicken wing eating challenge with no spectators.
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“Even if men are not thinking about it, eating more than a friend tends to be understood as a demonstration of virility and strength,” said Kevin Kniffin from the Cornell University in the US. The prize for eating the most wings was a worthless plastic medal, but competitors still ate about four times more food than normal.
Men who ate in front of spectators ate 30 per cent more than those without spectators and described the experience as challenging, cool and exhilarating. Women, on the other hand, ate less with spectators than without them and described the experience as slightly embarrassing.
“If you want to prove how macho you are, challenge your friend to a healthy arm wrestle instead of trying to out-eat him,” said lead author Brian Wansink from Cornell. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.