I’m always slightly sceptical of studies that link our contemporary behaviour to primeval urges and instincts.
When all is said and done, my behaviour is far more likely to be shaped by the world I live in now than the supposed programming of millions of years of evolutionary development.
I accept that physiological aspects of our development like the fight or flight reflex and a healthy fear of dark places may well be the legacy of millennia of survival.
At the same time I am lousy at crafting anything with my hands and rarely feel the urge to run out and kill something for lunch; all in all a bit of a disgrace to my hardy ancestors.
But then along comes a social experiment like the one conducted by Kevin Kniffin of the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at New York’s Cornell University, and I struggle to come up with any other explanation.
74 men and 59 women were asked to come to a pizza restaurant featuring an ‘all you can eat’ menu where they were then observed by researchers who noted whether they sat in a mixed or single gender group and recorded how much each individual ate.
For the women taking part in the experiment the results were quite predictable, where men were present at the table women ate more salad and less pizza than those within all female groups.
Surprisingly, the presence of the opposite gender at the dining table had precisely the opposite effect on male diners.
Men dining with women ate, on average, 3 slices of pizza and 5 bowls of salad, while their counterparts at all male tables were content with an average of 1.5 slices of pizza and 3 bowls of salad.
The researchers speculated that this was some ingrained form of posturing, designed to impress the female of the species in some way.
I’ll happily buy into that if I’m now able to blame my rather shapeless middle aged form on a futile thirty year quest to impress Mrs B; yes I sacrified my waistline for love and that's a scientific fact.
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