Researchers, led by Kevin Kniffin of Cornell University, asked undergraduate students to rate their jealousy in response to hypothetical scenarios involving their romantic partner engaging with a former partner, either by email, phone, coffee, or a meal.
They found that a meal elicited the highest jealousy ratings, potentially pointing to the importance of meals for human relationships and intimacy.
Interestingly, the researchers did not find any significant differences in the jealousy reported by male versus female participants.
Dr. Kniffin commented, “Given the tradition and fashion of food sharing among co-workers, family members, and friends, our findings are notably consistent with the idea that eating together has importance beyond nutritional factors. By applying a functional view of jealousy, our studies yield the inference that people think meals can be more than just meals.”