A team of consumer scientists, led by the vegetarian Dr Attila Pohlmann, are to study the link between meat consumption and masculinity, hoping to answer a simple question: why do men feel compelled to eat meat?
Since the birth of the earliest civilisations the consumption of meat has been perceived as an indication of masculinity. And in today’s 24-hour, always-on advertising world, the team of Hawaii scientists will also explore if marketing and advertising campaigns exploit male anxieties in a bid to boost meat consumption.
Steak over veg
Even in the wake of the World Health Organization’s report that linked the consumption of red meat to cancer, researchers from the University of Hawaii suggest men would rather eat meat than run the risk of being associated with the “feminine attributes” of a vegetarian diet.
“The strongly pronounced gender-food link presents a dilemma for traditionally masculine persons when it comes to deciding what to eat,” said research lead Pohlmann.
Consistently, they choose the steak over the vegetarian alternative. Helping us to complete the picture of the psychological and physiological factors involved in this process will hopefully influence marketing messages about masculinity and meat consumption in socially beneficial ways.”
Fundraising target exceeded
The study by US scientists will explore a range of issues, including: the psychology of why masculine individuals value meat-based dishes and how this positively influences marketing campaigns; and the biological and psychological process that drives a propensity for meat consumption, as well as how meat and vegetarian food options impact the hormones of consumers.
Researchers said results in the project would impact the fields of psychology, food marketing and nutrition.
Pohlmann’s study can be followed on the science platform Experiment, essentially a crowdsourcing site that encourages researchers to publish updates on the progress of their study in a similar style to social media sites.
The study has already exceeded the initial fundraising target of $3,000, with 17 days still to go.