Do skinny waitresses make you eat less?

• May 20 2015

Update: Some people are male and some people are female. Some are overweight and some are underweight. Tall, short. Old, young. This study was about a woman, an artificial body type, and the affect on consumer behaviour. We understand why some readers are offended by the content, but there is no prejudice meant — however categorized, men and women are equal.


In commercials you always see pretty and slender actresses selling to you — thin women are considered more persuasive.

But a 2010 study at the University of British Columbia suggests a different mechanism in our decision making: identification with the seller’s body type.

The experiment had two parts…

First, a slender woman (BMI of 19) recommended participants eat one of two snacks: carrots or cookies.

Next, she put on a body suit that made her appear overweight (BMI of 33), and then made the same recommendations: carrots or cookies.


The result?

When the waitress was thin she was able to persuade more subjects to eat carrots.

Great! We should all eat more carrots.

But the highest level of persuasion was when the overweight server recommended cookies — more cookies were consumed.

Conclusion: Your environment and the people around you can affect the choices you make.

So the next time you are tempted to order that Double Chocolate Cream Pie — take a moment and think about the subtle triggers affecting your decision — it may be having a bigger influence than you think.

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