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Sight of Meat Lessens Aggression

Sight of Meat Lessens AggressionA new study dispels the belief held by some that the sight of meat makes people more aggressive.

Frank Kachanoff, a researcher at McGill University, discovered that seeing meat in fact appears to make human beings significantly less aggressive.

“I was inspired by research on priming and aggression, that has shown that just looking at an object which is learned to be associated with aggression, such as a gun, can make someone more likely to behave aggressively,” Kachanoff said. 

“I wanted to know if we might respond aggressively to certain stimuli in our environment not because of learned associations, but because of an innate predisposition. I wanted to know if just looking at the meat would suffice to provoke an aggressive behavior.”

The idea that meat would elicit aggressive behavior makes sense, as it may have helped our primate ancestors with hunting, cooperating and protecting their meat resources.

Kachanoff believed that humans may therefore have evolved an innate predisposition to respond aggressively toward meat, and recruited 82 males to test his theory, using long-established techniques for provoking and measuring aggression.

The experiment itself was simple — subjects had to punish a script reader every time he made an error while sorting photos, some with pictures of meat, and others with neutral imagery. The subjects believed that they could inflict various volumes of sound, including “painful,” to the script reader, which he would hear after his performance.

While the research team figured that the group sorting pictures of meat would inflict more discomfort on the reader, they were very surprised by the results.

“We used imagery of meat that was ready to eat. In terms of behavior, with the benefit of hindsight, it would make sense that our ancestors would be calm, as they would be surrounded by friends and family at mealtime,” Kachanoff explained.

“I would like to run this experiment again, using hunting images. Perhaps Thanksgiving next year will be a great opportunity for a do-over!”

Evolutionary psychologists believe it is useful to look at innate reflexes in order to better understand societal trends and personal behavior.

Kachanoff’s research is important because it looks at ways society may influence environmental factors to decrease the likelihood of aggressive behavior.

Source: McGill University

Sight of Meat Lessens Aggression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Sight of Meat Lessens Aggression. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 17, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/11/09/sight-of-meat-lessens-aggression/20686.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.