There are a number of ways men try to impress women: They might dress to impress, attempt to stun with their political chops, brag about the marathon they just ran, or shave and style their hair nicely.
That said, there’s another more unexpected behavior men perform on dates, or simply in the presence of women: They overeat. It’s definitely an odd thing to do to impress, but a new study out of Cornell University found that men do overindulge when in the presence of the opposite sex — so don’t feel bad about downing that entire steak, you’re not alone.
The study, which was published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, indicates that men tend to eat significantly more when they’re in the company of women. To reach this conclusion, researchers studied 133 adults (74 males and 59 females) as they dined repeatedly at an all-you-can-eat Italian buffet over the course of two weeks.
The research team recorded each of the diner’s gender identities and how many bowls of salad and slices of pizza each participant ate, as well as the gender of the that person’s dining companion(s). The researchers then asked the diners to complete surveys on how full they were and how hurried or comfortable they felt during their meals.
The results were very interesting: The men who were in the company of at least one woman consumed 86% more salad and 93% more pizza then they did in the company of only other men. “These findings suggest that men tend to overeat to show off,” said Kevin Kniffin, Ph.D., of Cornell University to the Los Angeles Times. “You can also see this tendency in eating competitions, which almost always have mostly male participants,” he adds.
On the other side, regarding the women in the study, the researchers found that they all ate the same amount, regardless of their dining companions’ genders; however, they were more likely to report that they overate or felt hurried when they were in the company of at least one man. A separate study out of Canada found that women tend to eat less when on a date.
This new research out of Cornell sheds more light on gender differences with regards to eating habits, and may speak to the interesting methods that some men use, consciously or not, to attract women.