A recipe for friendship: Similar food consumption promotes trust and cooperation

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Journal of Consumer Psychology, ISSN: 1057-7408, Vol: 27, Issue: 1, Page: 1-10

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Kaitlin Woolley; Ayelet Fishbach
Psychology; Business, Management and Accounting
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article description
This research examines the consequences of incidental food consumption for trust and cooperation. We find that strangers who are assigned to eat similar (vs. dissimilar) foods are more trusting of each other in a trust game (Study 1). Food consumption further influences conflict resolution, with strangers who are assigned to eat similar foods cooperating more in a labor negotiation, and therefore earning more money (Study 2). The role of incidental food similarity on increased trust extends to the product domain. Consumers are more trusting of information about non-food products (e.g., a software product) when the advertiser in the product testimonial eats similar food to them (Study 3). Lastly, we find evidence that food serves as a particularly strong cue of trust compared with other incidental similarity. People perceive that pairs eating similar foods, but not pairs wearing similar colored shirts, are more trusting of one another (Study 4). We discuss theoretical and practical implications of this work for improving interactions between strangers, and for marketing products.