Sharing a meal with a former romantic partner is more likely than other, non-food-related activities to make your current partner jealous, according to a new study in the journal PLoS ONE.
The researchers, led by Kevin Kniffin of Cornell University, asked subjects 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.
The researchers found that coffee meetings ranked second in the jealousy stakes, while phone conversations and email exchanges came in at third and forth respectively.
"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," noted Kniffin.
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Source: Public Library of Science