Have you ever stopped to consider the influence your current crop of friends might be having on your current behaviours.
They’re unlikely to leading you down the path of moral ruination, but they may be contributing to your expanding waistline.
Bad company corrupts behaviour, even in grown ups.
Encounters in the lobby
Research published in the Journal of Consumer Research demonstrated fat “friends” can get you dipping your hand deeper in the cookie jar.
The researchers conducted a little survey in the lobby of a building. People passing through the lobby were asked to complete a standardized questionnaire, which included either a photo of an overweight person, a normal weight person or a lamp.
The participants were invited to help themselves from a bowl of sweets when they had completed the form.
Fingers in the cookie jar
The answers to the questionnaire were irrelevant, the researchers were watching the cookie jar.
When the form included a photo of an overweight person, participants ended up taking a fist full of candy. But when the forms included the normal weight person or the lamp, candy consumption was more tempered.
Seeing the overweight person seemed to trigger a candy binge.
The phenomenon didn’t just apply to sweets. The team repeated the lobby encounter but offered cookies instead of candy.
People taking the survey with the “fat” photo, ate twice as many cookies as those taking it with the neutral photos.
Seeing a fat person makes it okay
In the moment at least, seeing a fat person makes commitments to health goals slip the mind.
Unfortunately, ALL extra calories, tend to stick on the hips.
Are you keeping bad company ?
Could you weight problems be due to the company you’re keeping ?
Quick, score your friends.
Fat, thin, neutral.
Think back on that pleasant evening you spent together.
What did they eat ? Now, the big question – what did you eat ? More than you should have ?
Birds of a feather stick together
“Bad” behaviour becomes more acceptable when other people are doing it.
Being in the presence of friends carrying a few extra pounds, could be triggering a “negative sterotype” and undermining your good intentions.
Firing your friends
If you realized your friends are contributing to your problem should you fire them ?
Definitely not. Having no friends is a bigger health risk, than having fat friends.
But you might need to do a little management of friend encounters. When socializing keep your personal health goals uppermost in your mind, enjoy their company, not their food.
PS. If you need help, keeping your appetite in check, ask for a glass of water and down it real quick prior to the meal.Seeing is Eating: How and When Activation of a Negative Stereotype Increases Stereotype-Conducive Behavior. Journal of Consumer Research (2011) 38(3):431-444 . Margaret C. Campbell and Gina S. Mohr.
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