Your nerves are running extra high when meeting someone new for a dinner date. You’re anxiously trying to keep the flow of conversation going as the waiter comes for your order.
Here’s what you do: let your date order their meal and then order the exact same thing. According to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, ordering the same food as your date makes them more likely to trust you and enjoy your company.
"On a very basic level, food can be used strategically to help people work together and build trust,” said Ayelet Fishbach, the study’s co-author and business school professor at the University of Chicago.
To test the theory that trust can be gained through food, the researchers paired participants together and gave some pairs similar foods and other pairs different foods. The pairs were then asked to perform trust activities.
"On a very basic level, food can be used strategically to help people work together and build trust."
Those who ate the same foods trusted their partner more than those who ate different foods.
In another experiment, pairs were asked to perform a work-related negotiation. The pairs who ate the same foods reached an agreement twice as quickly as the pairs who were given totally different foods.
“People tend to think that they use logic to make decisions, and they are largely unaware that food preferences can influence their thinking,” said Fishbach.
Researchers believe this technique of gaining trust through ordering similar foods can be applied to first dates, friendships or office relationships.
"I think food is powerful because it is something that we put into our bodies and we need to trust it in order to do that," Fishbach said. "I hope our research will be used to connect people and facilitate conflict resolution. Our next goal is studying whether sharing food has an impact on trust and cooperation."