In what is likely an attempt to "show off," men eat more in the presence of women than in front of other men, according to new research out of Cornell University. In fact, in the study published this month in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, researchers say that of the 105 adults they observed over a two-week period at an all-you-can-eat buffet, men ate a whopping 93% more pizza (about 1.5 slices) when with women than with men, and 86% more salad. But it wasn't necessarily a turn-on to their female counterparts. Women, who ate roughly the same regardless of the gender of their company, reported feeling that they overate and were rushed when dining with men. "These findings suggest that men tend to overeat to show off—you can also see this tendency in eating competitions, which almost always have mostly male participants," says the lead researcher.
Overeating is a way of using body language to say, "I have so much energy that I can afford to engage in some specific kind of risky or altruistic activity," the researcher tells Live Science, while other studies show similar trends of men engaging in riskier behaviors in front of women than men. A similar experiment conducted at Indiana University of Pennsylvania found that all students tend to order more food in front of women than in front of men, though how much was limited to the menu items as it was not a buffet, reports UPI. Because the Cornell study is so small, researchers caution on drawing too many conclusions, but the university's Food and Brand Lab did draw up a poster with the message, "Calm down when eating with the opposite sex." (Should an obsession with "clean" eating be its own eating disorder?)