Conformity and How it Relates to Eating Patterns
Mentor:Jennifer Harriger, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University
This study examines how the eating habits and behaviors of individuals are influenced by another person’s presence. Prior research has shown that participants are more likely to conform to eating patterns and behaviors of others in a large group; however this particular study focuses on the influence of just one other person. Twenty-nine females, aged 18-22, from Pepperdine University participated in a study designed to assess whether participants were more likely to conform to a confederate’s healthy eating patterns. It was hypothesized that participants, when presented with a variety of foods (both healthy and unhealthy), would be more likely to conform to the healthy eating patterns of the confederate in the room. Participants were divided into two different groups: a control group where a confederate was not present to influence a participant’s eating habits, and an experimental group where a confederate engaged in “fat talk” and ate only healthy food options. Results indicated that participants in the experimental condition were more likely to conform to the confederate’s healthy eating, while participants in the control group were less likely to eat the healthy food choices. It is important to continue research in this topic in order to further examine the relationship between social conformity and eating patterns.