Get ready for a stunning revelation concerning human behavior, courtesy of group of psychologists who apparently spent a fair amount of time and research dollars on the study.
Are you ready? Here it is: “Men in Western countries connect eating meat—especially muscle meat like steak—with masculinity. Vegetables, however, were not considered masculine.”
According to Paul Rozin, professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, Brian Wansink, professor of Consumer Behavior at Cornell University and Julia M. Hormes of Louisiana State University, men tend to forge a strong link between eating meat and the perception of masculinity.
The research is scheduled to be published in the October 2012 issue of theJournal of Consumer Research, but thanks to a number of eagle-eyed reporters, we have an advance on the insight that not only men, but people in general view male meat eaters as being more masculine than non-meat eaters.
In a summary that didn’t mince words, according to more than one news report, the authors stated: “To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food. Soy is not.”
To eat soy-based veggie foods, most men, the study concluded, would have to give up a food they see as strong and powerful—like themselves—for a food they saw as “weak and wimpy.”
How did the researchers arrive at these eye-opening conclusions? They conducted a number of experiments that examined metaphors and certain foods, such as meat and milk, and found that people rated meat as more masculine than vegetables.
They also found that meat generated more masculine words when people discussed it, and that people viewed male meat eaters as being more masculine than non-meat eaters.
Hope you were sitting down for that nugget of insight. I know I’ll never look at meat-eating quite the same way anymore.
Most of the studies took place in the United States and Britain, but the authors also analyzed 23 languages that use gendered pronouns and discovered that even in most languages other than English, meat was related to the male gender.
What are we to make of this groundbreaking research? The authors helpfully noted that if marketers or health advocates want to “counteract the powerful associations” between meat and masculinity, they need to address the metaphors that shape consumer attitudes.