Why You Should Order the Same Dish as Your Tinder Date

Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that when strangers eat similar foods, they become more trusting of one another and perform better in negotiation tasks.
July 5, 2016, 12:00pm
Photo via Flickr user Archangel1

Anyone who has ever attempted to wangle a pay rise from their heart-of-stone boss or desperately prove to a Tinder date that they're totally normal despite having more cats than family members will know that gaining people's trust can be hard work.

But that could be because we've been doing it all wrong. Behavioural science psychologists at the University of Chicago may have found the answer to becoming better both at negotiating conflict and winning strangers' trust. It all comes down to what we eat.

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Published online in the Journal of Consumer Psychology at the end of June, the study claims that people feel "closer to and more trusting of those who consume as they do."

Co-authors Kaitlin Woolley and Ayelet Fishbach went on to state that food consumption "influences conflict resolution, with strangers who are assigned to eat similar foods cooperating more in a labour negotiation, and therefore earning more money."

Perhaps the key to that pay rise could be bonding over the smelly tuna sandwiches your boss insists on eating in the open plan office every lunch time.

To come to their conclusions, Woolley and Fishbach gave one group of strangers similar foods and another dissimilar foods to eat, before watching them complete tasks to test trust. In one activity, the participants role-played as a trade union figure negotiating wages.

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While the researchers admit that "similarity in food consumption is not indicative of whether two people will get along or whether someone is trustworthy," food was "especially beneficial for new relationships where people have limited information about the other person and are forming first impressions."

To be fair, you can tell a lot from a person from their Nando's order. If your date is a lemon-and-herb kind of guy, there probably won't be fireworks later.