Can we eat Social Belonging? the Dynamic Interplay Between Person and Situation
G. Sproesser1, H. Schupp1, B. Renner1
1University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany
Background. Human eating behavior is regulated by multiple factors. The present study investigated how the desire for social belonging affects the consumption of a socially laden food in different social contexts. Methods: 123 participants with high or low trait need to belong took part in this experimental study. To activate the need to belong, participants experienced either a social-exclusion, neutral, or social-inclusion situation. Next, ice cream was associated with positive social relationships and consumption measured in a bogus taste test. Findings: A significant person-situation interaction was observed, F(2,111) = 4.5, p = .01. After being socially excluded, people with high need to belong ate significantly more ice cream than people with low need to belong. A reversed pattern emerged for the social inclusion condition while no group differences were seen in the neutral condition. Discussion: These data suggest that social effects on the consumption of socially laden food depend on the need for belongingness. While social exclusion triggers consumption in people with a high need for belongingness, the soft spot emerge for people with low need for belonging in a positive situation.