Social Factors And Social Influences On Eating Behavior

1874 Words 8 Pages
There are many factors that affect eating behavior in humans ranging from environmental to mood to social influences. The extent of these factors nor the magnitude of their effect on eating behavior is not completely understood. Significant amounts of research has been done in this area of study, culminating in various different models proposed by researcher that seek to explain just one these factors. This paper seeks to describe and evaluate how well one of these models, the normative model proposed in Herman, Roth, & Polivy (2003), explains social influences on eating behavior and apply the model to determine its effectiveness in predicting and explaining the findings of other research pertaining to social factors and eating behavior.
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(2003), we can begin to apply it to other studies that examine the effects of social influences on eating behavior and determine its effectiveness at explaining the findings of the research. In particular, we will be applying the model to a study conducted by Robinson, Tobias, Shaw, Freeman, & Higgs (2011) in which they examined social matching of food intake and the need for social acceptance. In this study the researchers conducted two separate but related experiments to investigate whether ingratiation strategies explain the extent to which individuals match their intake to that of an eating companion. In the first of the two studies, the researchers examined whether self-esteem and empathy scores predicted matching of food intake in unacquainted pairs that were given access to snack food while attempting to complete a problem solving task, in this case playing a game of hangman. The results of the first study demonstrated a high degree of matching between the pairs, with groups containing at least one individual displaying low self-esteem or one individual with high empathy exhibiting the strongest matching effects. This preliminary study suggests that desire for social acceptance is a motivator for the matching behavior displayed by subjects with low self-esteem or high empathy …show more content…
Thorough examination of the assertions about the normative model in Herman et al. (2003) leads to a number of interesting observations and conclusions. The first of these observations pertains to the order in which the three models are presented and the concepts used to describe each. The authors begin by describing and outline social facilitation, followed by modeling, and concluding with impression management. The definition of social facilitation is extremely general and essentially states that an individual’s food intake will increase as the size of the group they are eating with increases. While this phenomenon is well supported, it fails to take into account a number of other factors such as availability of food, palatability of food, duration of meal, and other factors. Social facilitation is followed by modeling which seems to rely at least in part on social facilitation. Impression management then follows modeling and seems to be contingent on both modeling and social facilitation. This progressive reliance on previous models is troublesome due to the fact that each model is supposed to describe different aspects of social influences and instead of producing three standalone sub-models, the paper instead

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