Meat brings out the worst in people”. This is what psychologists of the Radboud University Nijmegen and Tilburg University concluded from varrious studies on the psychological significance of meat.
Thinking of meat makes people less socially and in many respects more “loutish”. It also appears that people are more likely to choose meat when they feel insecure, perhaps because it is a feeling of superiority or status displays, the researchers suggest.
Marcel Zeelenberg Tilburg professors (Economic psychology) and Diederik Stapel (consumer sciences and dean of Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences) and the Nijmegen Professor Roos Vonk (social psychology) examined the psychological significance of meat. “People say, meat is tasty, it’s healthy. But like many other meat products has also a symbolic and expressive value ‘, Zeelenberg explained. “Think of driving a Hummer or a Panda. With both you’ll get to your destination, but a Hummer is tougher. Like the Hummer meat is bad for the environment and climate. It is also bad for animals, the third world and our own health. But people can get quite upset when you tell them that. They are obviously very attached to their steak.”
Insecure people choose for meat
That was the hypothesis for the three psychologists: it may also have important psychological needs that meat nourishes. In a series of studies, some of the participants were made insecure. This led to a greater preference for meat when they could have chosen from three dishes: meat (steak), fish or vegetarian (omelet). In the uncertain made group, 60 percent of participants chose the steak. In the control group this was only 20 percent. Vonk: “This suggests that people do not primarily eat meat because they like it or think it’s healthy. Consider the Hummer again as you drive because it you do not need to survive in the jungle. Like the Hummer, meat gives a boost to your status and your ego. ”
In other studies it was examined what happens to people when they think of meat. They got to see a picture of a juicy steak, while a control group saw a picture of a cow or a tree. Thinking of meat, does not exactly bring out the best in people, Roos Vonk noted. People who looked at the steak had made selfish choices during a division game, they often chose in their own interest. In imaginary situations, they found themselves more important than others and reacted less social: in a fire they found that they often wished to be saved first, and that they were less willing to help someone who is upset. It was also found that after people eating meat they felt less connected to others, lonely and unpopular.
Meat and ego
Roos Vonk, known for her columns and books about how our ego gets in our way, doesn’t feel shocked. “Previous research had already shown that meat eaters think more in terms of dominance and hierarchy (who is the boss?) than vegetarians. Eating meat is also traditionally associated with status, meat used to be much more expensive and scarcer than now. Eating meat is a way to elevate yourself above others. But by uplifting yourself, you lose connection with others. That explains why there are more insecure people in need. It also makes people loutish when they think about meat and also feel lonely. “Diederik Stapel adds to it: “It seems that vegetarians and flexitarians are happier and feel better, and they are also more sociable and less lonely.”
The above study by three university professors to show that meat eaters are “selfish bastards” is based on fraud. The study attracted international attention, but there was immediate controversy in the scientific world on the conclusions and the research method.