Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chicken soup for the soul: Comfort food fights loneliness

Date:
March 23, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf ... they may be bad for your arteries, but according to an upcoming study, they're good for your heart and emotions. The study focuses on "comfort food" and how it makes people feel.

Mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf…they may be bad for your arteries, but according to an upcoming study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, they're good for your heart and emotions. The study focuses on "comfort food" and how it makes people feel.

"For me personally, food has always played a big role in my family," says Jordan Troisi, a graduate student at the University of Buffalo, and lead author on the study. The study came out of the research program of his co-author Shira Gabriel, which has looked at social surrogates -- non-human things that make people feel like they belong. Some people counteract loneliness by bonding with their favorite TV show, building virtual relationships with a celebrity or a movie character, or looking at pictures and mementos of loved ones. Troisi and Gabriel wondered if comfort food could have the same effect by making people think of their nearest and dearest.

In one experiment, in an attempt to make participants feel lonely, the researchers had them write for six minutes about a fight with someone close to them. Others were given an emotionally neutral writing assignment. Then, some people in each group wrote about the experience of eating a comfort food and others wrote about eating a new food. Finally, the researchers had participants complete questions about their levels of loneliness.

Writing about a fight with a close person made people feel lonely. But people who were generally secure in their relationships -- something that was assessed before the experiment -- were able to rescue themselves from loneliness by writing about a comfort food. "We have found that comfort foods are foods which are consistently associated with those close to us," says Troisi. "Thinking about or consuming these foods later then serves as a reminder of those close others." In their essays on comfort food, many people wrote about the experience of eating food with family and friends.

In another experiment, eating chicken soup in the lab made people think more about relationships, but only if they considered chicken soup to be a comfort food -- a question they'd been asked long before the experiment, along with many other questions, so they wouldn't remember it.

"Throughout everyone's daily lives they experience stress, often associated with our connections with others," Troisi says. "Comfort food can serve as a ready-made, easy resource for remedying a sense of loneliness. Keeping in mind this new research, it seems humans can find a number of ways to feel like we're connected with others."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Chicken soup for the soul: Comfort food fights loneliness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321162005.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, March 23). Chicken soup for the soul: Comfort food fights loneliness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321162005.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Chicken soup for the soul: Comfort food fights loneliness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321162005.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins