Is a triple cheeseburger the poor man’s limousine? According to a new study, consumers who feel powerless in society — often those with low socioeconomic status — may be likely to choose bigger food portions, given the opportunity, because they feel it boosts their social standing.
The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, expands on the notion that bigger is better. That cultural norm tends to be true of certain products: a bigger car, house or TV set is usually associated with higher status. But the researchers found that the same phenomenon extends to food portions too.
In one experiment, people were asked to rate the status of consumers based only on whether they chose small, medium or large food items like pizza or coffee — things you wouldn’t traditionally associate with social status. The participants consistently judged the consumers who went big as being more respected, even when it was noted that all the foodstuffs, regardless of size, were free.
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