Effects of the presence of others on food intake: a normative interpretation

Psychol Bull. 2003 Nov;129(6):873-86. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.129.6.873.


The authors review the effect of the presence of others on food intake. In social facilitation studies, people tend to eat more in groups than when alone. In modeling studies, the presence of others may facilitate or inhibit intake, depending on how much these other people eat. Studies of impression management demonstrate that people tend to eat less in the presence of others than when alone. The authors attempt to reconcile these divergent literatures by reference to a model of inhibitory norms that govern eating. In the presence of palatable food, and in the absence of clear signals of satiety, people look outward to cues from the environment to determine when to stop eating. Socially derived inhibitory norms can account for either increased or decreased intake in the presence of others, depending on how much the others eat and the extent to which one is eager to impress them.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Social Facilitation