Think how hungry you corresponds exactly to how much you want to eat? Think again. A bunch of things can make us feel more hungry than we should be, including stress, thirst, watching TV, and very large plates. (And then being hungry will cause you to like curvier women. The brain is pretty silly.) Add one more thing to the list: having fat friends will make you feel hungrier than you should be.
A study published in Appetite has found that eating with a fat friend will cause you to eat more—no matter how much the fat friend in question is eating. Researchers had 82 undergraduate students eat a spaghetti and salad lunch. They also had an actress equipped with a prosthesis that added fifty pounds to her regular weight. Before sitting down for lunch, the actress would serve herself first, then the students dining with her. This played out in one of four ways:
- The actress, wearing the prosthesis, served herself a healthy meal (more salad, less pasta).
- The actress, wearing the prosthesis, served herself a less healthy meal (more pasta, less salad).
- The actress, sans prosthesis, served herself a healthy meal.
- The actress, sans prosthesis, served herself a less healthy meal.
Turns out, it really didn’t really matter what the actress ate; it mattered how fat people thought she was. When the actress appeared fat, participants served and ate 31.6% more pasta regardless of what the actress was eating. When the actress appeared fat and ate more salad, other participants ate 43.5% less salad.
Of course, when faced with this same situation, you could beat it by simply serving yourself first—which would be a good idea.