Yesterday, Alexandra Sifferlin at TIME.com wrote about some research I've worked on with Brenna Ellison at the University of Illinois. Brenna collected data on what people order at restaurants and correlated that with what other people at the same table also order. Here is a snippet from the TIME blog:
The researchers then created a model to assess how customers felt about their choices. Based on the popularity of menu items, the researchers determined the probability that individuals were satisfied with their choice. Interestingly, this gauge of satisfaction was influenced by expected factors such as price and calories, but also by fellow diners’ menu choices as well. They found that even if a customer initially felt less satisfied about their choice of say, a salad, they felt better about it if their friends ordered an item within the same menu category.
“The big takeaway from this research is that people were happier if they were making similar choices to those sitting around them,” study author Brenna Ellison, an economist at the U of I, said in a statement. “If my peers are ordering higher-calorie items or spending more money, then I am also happier, or at least less unhappy, if I order higher-calorie foods and spend more money.” So if you’re hoping to eat better, try dining with friends who do too.
You can read the actual research paper here.