Can a Waiter's Weight Affect How Much We Order?
Okay, consider this the next time you eat out at a restaurant: The weight of your server could affect how much food you order.
At least that’s the finding from researchers at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. They say that diners tend to order more at restaurants when their waiter is on the heavier side.
The researchers observed interactions between 497 diners and their servers in 60 different restaurants, including establishments such as Applebee’s and TGIFriday’s. They tracked what the diners ordered, the body mass index (BMI) of their servers and the size of the diners themselves.
The results, published in the journal Environment and Behavior, were very clear. Diners ordered significantly more when their waiters had higher BMIs, compared with wait staff who had lower BMIs. Specifically, diners with heavier waiters were four times more likely to order desserts and ordered 17.65 percent more alcoholic drinks.
As researcher Tim Doering puts it, “No one goes to a restaurant to start a diet. As a result, we are tremendously susceptible to cues that give us a license to order and eat what we want. A fun, happy, heavy waiter might lead a diner to say ‘What the heck’ and to cut loose a little.”
Don’t miss this week’s Slice of History–The TV Dinner.