‘SHARING IS CARING’ – HOW SHARING FOOD BUILDS TRUST, CO-OPERATION AND IMPROVES YOUR SOCIAL STANDING

Studies suggest sharing food is both good for your heath and your social stability. The idea of sharing food may be daunting to some who are territorial with their food, however accompanied by sunshine and a BBQ, we all love occasionally indulging in a sharing platter or two.

Countries all over the world take pleasure from sharing food between their family and friends. However, it seems to be quintessentially British to eat a traditional three-course meal dressed in your favourite attire, but is this really good for you? And should we take note from countries like Spain with their tapas sharing dishes; the Italians who gather the whole family to dine al fresco and countries like India and China who have specifically designed dishes to share and combine?

This isn’t to say Britain doesn’t offer this style of eating; trends show the rise of sharing food in many restaurants across the country. From high street chains such as Revolution, to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen; dishes large and small are shared to create a social atmosphere where friends and family can come together to enjoy the food together.

Sharing is caring;

Whether food is served family style, or on large platters designed to share, people are more likely to engage with others around the table; touching upon our more prosocial selves. Charlotte De Becker from the University of Antwerp, Belgium has suggested ‘sharing food primes people to think about fairness – do I get as much as everyone else at the table? Authority – who is being served first? And greed – sometimes I cannot take as much as I would personally want.’

The Trust Test;

‘A recipe for friendship: Similar food consumption promotes trust and co-operation’ is a study which was published online in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. It consists of four smaller studies carried out between 2013 and 2016 by Woolley and her co-author Ayelet Fishbach, a professor of behavioural science and marketing at the Booth School of Business.

The smaller study with most relevance is the fourth. Researchers developed a test to analyse whether the same levels of trust in a product could be increased when a group of people are eating the same food. 161 people were sampled to evaluate photos of people who were eating the same food and those eating different food. The response was overwhelmingly clear that the participants trusted the product featured when they were seen eating the same food rather than those eating different food.

Laura Cavanagh, a professor of behavioural sciences at Seneca College who was not involved in the study, said; “The results make sense from an evolutionary perspective.

“We use a lot of mental shortcuts when deciding who to trust and not to trust,” she said. “We’re using the animal instincts in the back of the mind … I know that the food is safe, I know that you’re safe.”

How does sharing food affect us mentally?

The Mental Health Foundation says ‘meal sharing is a great opportunity to socialise: more frequently and develop deeper exchanges over a meal which fosters empathy, helps us to relax and gets you grounded’.

Whilst the Institute for the Psychology of Eating says; ‘Given the newfound state of emotional equilibrium, your digestive process actually changes – the positive input means you’ll have a fuller metabolic breakdown… burning calories more effectively.’

Furthermore, the University of Chicago research suggests that when we eat the same food, we are ‘more likely to co-operate better, resolve conflict faster and even trust a product testimonial more’.

How does this affect the business-to-consumer relationship?

Based upon the research from multiple studies; businesses can assess more effectively how to market their restaurant/pub to the developing consumer market. From the research provided from Woolley and co-author Ayelet Fishbach, we know that consumers trust products/services when the subject is sharing food. This concept can be transferred to television ads, other forms of advertising and many other marketing campaigns.

Why not stage a range of serving platters with the Steelite Stage Woodware collection which are double sided? Also featured are the riser platters which add theatre to your presentation.

Equally, the Steelite glass Creations collection of platters allows the food to take centre stage when serving a large group of people.

Churchill’s range of rustic platters are ideal for gastro pubs which truly showcases the dish in style.