The world is divided into two types of people: those who steal food from their partner’s plate, and those who have food stolen from their own. Whichever camp you fall into, you’ve undoubtedly witnessed what can happen when food envy strikes and one diner’s fork finds its way to the wrong side of the table.
However, while most of us might find this habit a teeny bit irritating (think Joey Tribbiani screaming, ‘Joey doesn’t share food!’ at the top of his lungs), a new study has revealed that we should get more comfortable with the concept. Because, as it turns out, sharing food from the same plate is actually good for our relationships.
The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences, claims that “humans excel in cooperative exchanges” and that the act of food sharing, which is seen as a a cooperative exchange, is a particularly bonding experience and can be conducive for closeness in your relationship.
Researchers used a population of wild chimpanzees to explore the theory, and noticed that as they are social mammals (like us), they enjoy building long-term cooperative relationships between those that aren’t family, for example like a romantic partner.
When sharing food with another chimpanzee that was not a family member, the evidence showed that the hormone oxytocin (nicknamed ‘the love hormone’) was released into their brains: this suggests that the exchange is an experience of closeness and bonding.
The study authors concluded that “this link between food sharing and oxytocin found in chimpanzees may also be relevant for humans, where pro-social behaviour has often been linked to food sharing and provisioning.”
The subject of food has long been linked to sensuality, with endless research going into which tasty treats are deemed as most erotic or act as an aphrodisiac. This research is another argument for enjoying what’s on our tables to get closer to each other, and makes a great case for indulging in sharing style foods like tapas.
We’ll definitely be keeping this study up our sleeve next time food envy gets too much or we fancy a sharing board. After all, who can argue with science?
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