When placing your order at a restaurant, simply going with “I’ll have what she’s having” might seem lazy. But recently published research in the Journal of Consumer Psychology claims there might be another benefit to ordering the same thing as someone else beyond the opportunity to shoehorn When Harry Met Sally into the conversation: People who eat similar foods are more likely to trust and cooperate with each other.
The paper entitled “Similar Food Consumption Promotes Trust,” coauthored by two researchers at the University of Chicago (who I can only assume met when they ordered the same bagel sandwich at the Einstein Brothers on University and 57th), included four different studies “that examine whether incidental, similar food consumption increases closeness and liking, which in turn promote trust and cooperation.”
The first found “that strangers who are assigned to eat similar (vs. dissimilar) foods are more trusting of each other in a trust game.” The second found that eating identically is good for business “with strangers who are assigned to eat similar foods cooperating more in a labor negotiation, and therefore earning more money.” A third study found that the bond people feel with those who eat like they do has a pretty far reach: “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,” the abstract states. Meanwhile, the fourth and final study showed that food is stronger than fashion, finding that “people perceive that pairs eating similar foods, but not pairs wearing similar colored shirts, are more trusting of one another.”
Still, despite all these findings, the papers biggest takeaway probably comes in its conclusion. “Although similarity in food consumption is not indicative of whether two people will get along or whether someone is trustworthy, we find consumers treat this as such, feeling closer to and more trusting of those who consume as they do,” the authors write – meaning ordering the same as someone else may be a great start to a long con. Maybe we’ve finally figured out why Trump loves eating McDonald’s. Billions of burgers can’t be wrong.