Take a Snack, If You Please

People pleasers overeat in social settings

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) We all know someone who goes that extra mile to spread joy and aid others, but did you notice that they also tend to snack more?

Psychologists from universities throughout Washington discovered that “people-pleasers” tend to over-indulge when taste-testing at social gatherings.

Those with high levels of sociotropy, the technical term for the desire to please others, tend to eat as much as those around them, regardless of whether they’re hungry.

"Don't eat unless hungry, your waist will thank you. "

“People-pleasers feel more intense pressure to eat when they believe that their eating will help another person feel more comfortable,” says Julie Exline, corresponding author on the study and counselor at Case Western Reserve University.

“Almost everyone has been in a situation in which they've felt this pressure, but people-pleasers seem especially sensitive to it.”

The study is available through the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. A two part study on 101 undergraduate students, Dr. Exline and other university psychologists analyzed the young adults with a sociotropy questionnaire to determine how much they pleased.   

Directly after the questioning, students were sat next to an actress posed as a participant. She took a small handful of M&Ms and gave the bowl to the student. The researchers noted how many the student took and afterwards asked him what thoughts were used to make his decision.

People with higher scores in people-pleasing ended up eating significantly more candy than other participants. And while this may seem like a war for the waistline, the psychologists worry about the emotional distress it takes on those high in sociotropy.

While these people don’t want to “rock the boat” for others, Exline explains, “"Those who overeat in order to please others tend to regret their choices later.”

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 1, 2012
Last Updated:
February 1, 2012