Study: We Have Been Conditioned To Eat More Food

Filed under: Study — @ July 31, 2006

University of Pennsylvania Psychology doctorate candidate Andrew B. Geier conducted two research experiments to test his theory of “unit bias” which presupposes the amount of food you are given to eat is the appropriate portion size.


A large bowl of M&Ms were placed in the lobby of an upscale apartment building with a sign that read: “Eat Your Fill … please use the spoon to serve yourself.” Geier left the candy out for ten days in a row and rotated between using a spoon that held a quarter-up and a teaspoon.

The results? Not surprisingly, when the larger scoop was out, the people gave themselves an average of nearly two-thirds MORE M&Ms than the ones who had the teaspoon.


Geier placed a bowl of Tootsie Rolls in a snacking area of an apartment building for ten days in a row alternating between 80 small Tootsie Rolls or 20 of the larger size that are four times as big as the smaller ones. The same amount and weight of candy was kept constant throughout the experiment.

The results? The people took MORE by weight of the larger Toosie Rolls candies than they did the smaller ones.

Geier concludes that we have become conditioned to eat more food by the societal expectations on what a “normal” portion size is.

bq. But portion sizes in the United States have gone down a dangerous slippery slope over the past couple of decades and how many people have actually noticed or cared? It really has gotten crazy now, but how do you turn back the clock and expect people to STOP getting that Super Double Big Gulp from 7-11 that they are used to now and to suddenly START settling for the Gulp size. HA! Good luck on changing that person’s mind about portion size!

Click here to read more about when we started down this slippery slope regarding portion sizes and what we can do, if anything, to turn it around before the obesity epidemic reaches 100% in the United States!


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