The next time you have a lunch meeting with a potential client, consider ordering the same dish as them. New research from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business suggests that eating similar foods promotes trust and cooperation between adults.
Lead researcher Ayelet Fishbach, PhD, and her co-author, Kaitlin Woolley, found that what you eat can promote bonding and a sense of closeness, since food – above any other similarities – plays a special role in social relationships.
“Our research suggests people can be strategic in using their food consumption to connect with another person,” says Fishbach, noting that the strategy also works if someone wants to serve certain foods to people with whom they wish to connect. “People in a business meeting, at a conference or on a first date can speed up the process of getting to like and trust each other by eating more similarly to them,” she says.
Their research also has implications in a marketing context.
“We found that when advertisers ate the same food as consumers, consumers liked the advertisers more and trusted the information about the advertised product more than when advertisers ate different or no food,” she says. Their next study will examine whether the style of eating (for example, shared plates vs. individual plates) also influences coordination and cooperation.
See also10 Reasons to Eat Clean.