Keywords: Gender-Based Stereotype about Food; Impression Management; Self-Presentation; Eating Behavior.
Previous research has shown that different foods are stereotypically associated with gender and that eating in a role-congruent way fulfills an impression management function. On the other hand, other studies revealed that adapting one's food consumption to that of the co-eaters is a means to gain social approval as well. In the present study, we bridge these two distinct lines of research by studying what happens when the two norms (conforming to the gender-based stereotype and imitating the co-eater) conflict, that is with opposite-sex co-eaters. Results indicated that the tendency to match the co-eaters' supposed consumption generally appeared over and above one's gender-congruent choice. In addition, as expected, gender differences also emerged: while men were always willing to adapt to the co-eaters, women's intention to eat the feminine food was independent from the co-eaters' gender.