Investigating the social function of spicy food by promoting cohesion
Koh, Hui Lin
Date of Issue2016
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Background: It is unclear why people adopted the unbearable consumption of spicy food (capsaicin). However, some studies demonstrate that shared painful experiences and endorphin-releasing activities may promote social bonding. Hence, consumption of capsaicin rich food may serve some social function. Objective: This study aims to investigate if consumption of spicy food in a group context will lead to higher cohesion and conformity. Methods: One hundred and seventeen participants were recruited and randomly assigned into one of the four conditions (i.e., spicy alone, spicy group, non-spicy alone, non-spicy group). Participants were first told to answer some questionnaires before proceeding for the food tasting session followed by further questionnaires which include measures of cohesion and conformity. Results: Eating spicy food does not lead to higher cohesion and conformity. However, an interaction effect between spiciness and eating context was found. Conclusion: Spiciness was not found to be associated with cohesion or conformity. Nonetheless, future studies could look into the relationship between eating spicy food and social behaviours since eating spicy food may elicit particular social behaviour under certain situations.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University