12 July 2012

Activities Based on Food and Drink Can Cause Jealousy

‘‘It’s Just Lunch’’ is the name of a matchmaking service that aims to attract potential subscribers with the idea that lunch provides a non-threatening environment to meet an unfamiliar person who shares interest to develop a romantic relationship.

Does sharing food between two people involve something more than just food? Researchers asked participants how jealous they would be if their romantic partner were contacted by an ex-partner for food and drinks.

They explored the degree to which engaging in these activities without one's current romantic partner with one or more other people might elicit jealousy and whether the behavior is different between men and women.

It's not just lunch

Sharing a meal with a former romantic partner is more likely than other, non-food-related activities to make your current partner jealous, according to a study published July 11 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

Video: Deconstructing Jealousy

The authors, led by Kevin Kniffin of Cornell University, asked undergraduate students to rate their jealousy in response to hypothetical scenarios involving their romantic partner engaging with a former partner, either by email, phone, coffee, or a meal. They found that a meal elicited the highest jealousy ratings, potentially pointing to the importance of meals for human relationships and intimacy. Interestingly, the researchers did not find any significant differences in the jealousy reported by male versus female participants.

Dr. Kniffin remarks, "Given the tradition and fashion of food sharing among co-workers, family members, and friends, our findings are notably consistent with the idea that eating together has importance beyond nutritional factors. By applying a functional view of jealousy, our studies yield the inference that people think meals can be more than just meals."


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