The social influences on eating are complex and that the direction of the influence (increase vs. decrease) depends on situational (e.g., how much the âotherâ is eating) and individual (e.g., weight status) factors. Herman and his colleagues integrated these mechanisms into a normative framework accounting for the effects of others on eating. This normative model posits that, in the presence of palatable food, and in the absence of other constraints, people are motivated to eat as much as they want but that the presence of others, and perceptions of social norms, determine when eating stops. In other words, individuals are motivated to eat as much as they can. However, social norms serve an inhibitory function, indicating at what point individuals must stop eating if they are to avoid excess and become socially inappropriate (i.e., social facilitation). What might appear to be a systematic matching or modeling of food intake in some cases would actually be a systematic effort to avoid incurring the stigma of excess, or to conform to the norms in place. In this framework, individuals conform to othersâ behaviors because they see the amount eaten by others as an indicator of how much one can/should eat or because they believe that by conforming they will ingratiate themselves to others, and thus positively manage their impression
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Last date updated on September, 2014